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Cairns, 7 May 1997: transcript of doorstop [Cabinet solidarity; Mal Colston]

EOE - PROOF ONLY

JOURNALIST: On the Wik issue, it appears that Mr Howard may give Tim Fischer special exemption from Cabinet solidarity. What's your response to that?

BEAZLEY:This is unprecedented. This is a Government falling apart. We had our own difficulties from time to time when we were in Government and Cabinet Ministers disagreeing with the Government line. When they took that to a point of not being able to sustain Cabinet solidarity they left the Cabinet. It happened to Stewart West, on one occasion, and frequently you found, where Cabinet Ministers were likely to disagree with a Cabinet decision they absented themselves from the relevant Caucus meeting or National Executive meetings. You can't have a Government operating like this. You can't have a Government that operates without Cabinet solidarity. I mean, there's one standard after another being overthrown by Mr Howard and it's no good for the country.

JOURNALIST: Shouldn't the Deputy Prime Minister be given special consideration, though?

BEAZLEY:The Deputy Prime Minister, of all people, should have no dispensation. No Cabinet Minister should have dispensation from the needs of Cabinet solidarity. We now don't have proper accountability standards on the private interests of Ministers, we don't have proper Cabinet solidarity. I mean, what other standard is going to go out of the window from this one year old Government?

JOURNALIST: And, finally, with Mal Colston, would you welcome his decision to support Labor against the Government in the Senate?

BEAZLEY: The only decision I want to hear from Mal Colston: the only decision, is a little, one line piece of paper, one line on that piece of paper saying 'Dear Madam President, I resign from the Senate. Yours sincerely Mal Colston.' That's what I want to hear from Mr Colston. Nothing else he's got to say interests me.