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Fraser's reaction in defence of Newman is typical of govt's response to allegations of min. impropriety and/or incompetence



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Leader of the Opposition 2 . 10.71 ■s

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STATEMENT BY. BILL HAYDEN, MP

Mr Fraser's reaction in defence of the Minister for National Development is typical of the Government's response to allegations of ministerial impropriety and/or incompetence.

Over the past four years, there have been nine separate instances in which a Minister of the Fraser Government either has been . dismissed, suspended, forced to resign, or who has quit . voluntarily.

At least four other Ministers, including the Prime Minister, have at one time or another been under challenge in the Parliament for improper or incompetent actions.

Yet Mr Fraser seeks to excuse, dismiss, or gloss over these matters by the constant tactic of denigrating those who question what is happening in his administration. .

Equally disturbing is the fact that, as the infection of ministeria failure has spread, so too has Mr Fraser become more ruthless.in . denying the Parliament its fundamental right of public accountabili by the Executive.

There are two essential elements in Mr Fraser's quite deliberate campaign to abrogate ministerial responsibility to the Parliament.

One is his determination to ensure that the rights of Parliament are subordinate to his perception of his own best political . interests. ' , . .

The. other is his orchestrated attempts to seek' to make responsible dissent from, or criticism of, ministerial behavior politically unpopular by the blanket characterisation of it as 1 gutter politics. 1 . '

The consistent thread of the use of both these tactics runs throughout the four years the Fraser Government has been in office.

Mr· Fraser is less concerned with the rights of Parliament and the Westminister principle of public accountability than any Prime Minister in memory.

Parliament was never allowed any proper scrutiny of Mr Lynch's land deals or his subsequent forced resignation as Treasurer on the eve of the 1977 elections. .

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Parliament was not allowed any proper debate of Mr Garland's resignation after allegations involving the bribery of a political candidate in the 1977 elections.

This insidious and dangerous trend of ignoring the Parliament and evading public accountability has persisted through the · dismissals or resignation of Mr Ellicott, Mr Robinson, Senator Sheil, Senator Withers and now Mr Sinclair.

The same attitude prevailed when the Opposition sought at various times to challenge, the improper or incompetent actions in their ministerial performance of Mr Fraser, Mr Killen, Senator Webster and now Mr Newman.

1 do not ever accept that what is in the Government's best interests is necessarily in Parliament's best interests or the nation's best interests. ,

1 do not accept that Parliament has the right to be told only what Mr Fraser thinks it should be told / either by himself or by any one of his Ministers.

1 certainly do not accept that a Minister's basic responsibility is to the Government and not to the Parliament and the people.

And 1 can assure Mr Fraser the Opposition will not be deterred from pursuing matters involving accusations of ministerial impropriety, incompetence or deliberate deception merely because the Prime Minister has no defence other than personal abuse or emotional rhetoric. ,

CANBERRA October 2, 1979