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Royal Commission should investigate loans affair (Joint statement with Anthony)



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FOR PRESS

F75/161

6 June 1975

JOINT STATEMENT BY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION. MR^MALCOLM FRASER. AND LEADER OF THE NATIONAL COUNTRY PARTY. MR DOUG ANTHONY.

A Royal Commission ought to be held into the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the Government's attempts to raise loans overseas, which led to yesterday's statement to the Parliament by the Deputy Prime Minister and then Treasurer, Dr Jim Cairns.

The Government has plainly been involved in unorthodox and questionable loan-raising activities which have damaged Australia's reputation overseas and shattered the Government.

Two Departments are involved, the Treasury and the Department of Minerals and Energy.

Four Ministers are involved; the Treasurer, the former Treasurer, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Minerals and Energy.

A number of questions need to be resolved:

- Who gave directions for papers to be taken from the private files of the former Treasurer?

- Who ordered these papers to be sent to the Attorney-General's Department for a legal opinion?

- Who, if anyone, doctored one of the letters?

- Why were letters provided to Mr George Harris in the first place without the knowledge of the Treasury or of the Prime Minister?

- What letters have been issued from the Minister or the Department of Minerals and Energy? What role has that Department played in overseas loan-borrowing.

The Prime Minister ordered all papers relating to loan-raisings > from both Departments be put into his hands. Whoever took the

S j ; letters from Dr Cairns' file could therefore have been acting directly, or indirectly, on the orders of the Prime Minister.

Who advised the Prime Minister to ask for these papers?

Was it the present Treasurer, Mr Hayden? He has not plainly denied that he gave such advice.

Since four Ministers are involved, it is quite inappropriate for the enquiry to be conducted by the Prime Minister's Department.

It is impossible to suggest this matter only concerns officials. It concerns Ministers.

Therefore a Royal Commission should be held.