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Register of Members' and Senators' Pecuniary Interests

KEVIN CHAPMAN: Now to the latest details on the gifts and favours received by members of the House of Representatives. Jenny Hutchison compiled this report.

JENNY HUTCHISON: Some weeks ago we interviewed Dr Dick Klugman about the Register of Members' Interests. That's a record of property and share ownings, a register of favours or gifts received by members of the House of Representatives. Before the House rose, Dr Klugman tabled alterations to previously submitted returns covering any developments between December 1988 and 31 May this year. The chief purpose of the register is to reveal any potential conflict of interest situations. The documents make interesting, often amusing, reading. Here's a summary of entries from three MPs.

Don Cameron is the Liberal member for Morton in Queensland. He submitted four updates to his file. These inform us that he sold some shares, made some new real estate investments and that his wife lent him some money. Mr Cameron's become patron of a dog club for the physically disabled, he's joined Diabetics Australia, the United Nations Association and an intriguingly titled Brisbane organisation, Friends of the Pagoda.

Another Queenslander, Labor's Ted Lindsay, noted that he'd received a bicentennial medallion from the Townsville City Council, a free book from Amatil, and that he'd joined a district community centre. When attending the Pacific Parliamentary Caucus in Hawaii, Mr Lindsay and his wife had received free accommodation and meals and had been upgraded by Qantas from economy to either business or first class on their air flights.

Victorian Liberal, Roger Shipton received various favours. He and his daughter were flown on a private Hooker Corporation plane across the United States. The World Anti-Communist League, funded his air fare, accommodation and hospitality for a visit to the 1989 World Freedom Day rally in Taiwan. And on three occasions Qantas and Thai Airways had upgraded Mr Shipton.

Indeed, the most frequently listed favour received was the upgrading of airline bookings. One MP even managed to get his family of four all upgraded to first class. Receipt of an all-expenses paid trip was quite common. Two members, Colin Hollis and Bob Chynoweth, were guests of the Federal Department of Arts, Sport, the Environment, Tourism and Territories on a six-week visit to Antarctica. Con Sciacca, the Labor member for Bowman in Queensland, was a guest of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the purpose of attending the second national conference of emigrants in Rome. He was also able to return to his birthplace, Piedimonte Etneo in Sicily, for the town's 300th anniversary celebrations where he was given a plague declaring him an honorary Italian citizen.

New South Wales Liberal Don Dobie was sponsored on a trip to Israel by the Australian Jewish community and the Israeli Government. He was also one of four MPs who received travel assistance from an organisation called The Far East Trading Company. And National, Tim Fischer, records that he was given assistance with transport and accommodation in the Himalayas.

The British Government generously funded visits by Liberal Dr John Hewson, Labor's Robert Tickner and National Party Deputy Leader, Bruce Lloyd. Dr Hewson, formerly Shadow Minister for Finance and now Shadow Treasurer, had discussions with business, finance and political people in the cities of London, Edinburgh and Glasgow. The British Foreign Office arranged a two-week program of engagements for Mr Tickner, including a meeting with the United Kingdom Auditor-General. He notes 'This was of great benefit to my work as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee'. Bruce Lloyd visited London in January to, as he called it, study Government policies. He also went to the headquarters of the European Commission in Brussels.

The Japanese Government hosted Bob Chynoweth. And the International Institute of the American Republican Party funded John Spender's visit to observe the elections in Panama. The American Government provided a four-week, fully paid visit to the United States for National Party front bencher, John Sharp. And an association called the Women Walk Home Committee covered the cost of travel and accommodation for Jeannette McHugh in Cyprus.

Many MPs notify real estate and share transactions. Here's a humorous one. The National Party member for Farrer, New South Wales, Tim Fischer, writes: As a strong supporter of the Very Fast Train project, I reiterate and declare that I hold shares in both BHP and TNT. This formal additional declaration is made to head off any mischief making. My holdings at best would entitle me to one quarter of one sleeper in the VFT track between Sydney and Melbourne.

Then there are the gifts received. For example, Colin Hollis reports he was given some wooden carvings in Africa and that the manager of the Payless Supabarn in Barrack Heights gave him a Christmas present of a bottle of Dimple Haig whiskey. Roger Price reveals that the Siemens Company gave him a fax machine.

National John Anderson has submitted his first return. He was elected in an April by-election for the New South Wales seat of Gwydir. The register is an interesting source of information on a new member. For example, we learn that John Anderson lives on a grazing property called Newstead, that he has a private investment company and that his wife has shares in various companies, and that their choice is the National Australia Bank. Mrs Anderson is a member of the New South Wales Teachers' Federation and the new member belongs to the New South Wales Farmers' Federation and the Royal Sydney Golf Club.

And then there's the very human side of the register. Three members announced their marriages. Dr Hewson reveals that one of his wedding presents was a quarter share in a thoroughbred horse called Zarrazare. Dr Michael Wooldridge and Minister Peter Staples, announced that their new partners brought to the marriage their own residences. David Simmons is delighted to announce that his daughter Jane has entered the work force and so is no longer a dependant. Alan Griffiths notes the forming of a joint venture partnership for manufacturing one of his inventions, called My Pillow. And Barry Cohen, as befits his burgeoning career as a commentator, has joined the Australian Journalists' Association and the Australian Society of Authors.

KEVIN CHAPMAN: Well, that's it for Ring the Bells this week. On the next program we look at an inquiry into the archaic legal system of some of Australia's external territories, and discuss possible improvements to parliamentary procedures.