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Tuesday, 13 September 1983
Page: 651

Mr McVEIGH —My question is directed to the Acting Special Minister of State. Will the Minister examine whether--

Mr SPEAKER —Order! There is no Acting Special Minister of State. There is a Special Minister of State.

Mr McVEIGH —I was a bit confused.

Mr SPEAKER —I can understand that. I invite the honourable member to continue with his question.

Mr McVEIGH —Honourable members will understand the confusion because the former Special Minister of State still occupies his office. I ask the Minister: Will he examine whether the arranging of attractive prices for particular speaking engagements by lobbyists has been used to influence those who are now Ministers on matters for which they are now responsible? With that in mind, will the Acting Special Minister of State--

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Darling Downs persists after having been corrected. I suggest that he alter his question so that it will be in order otherwise I will sit him down.

Mr McVEIGH —Will the Special Minister of State examine whether the previous Minister indulged in similar practices to those of his Prime Minister and, if so , what were his charging rates compared to those of the Prime Minister?

Mr BEAZLEY —I sincerely hope the honourable gentleman's question was prepared for him. I suspect that it was not. I would have thought that on the Opposition side the question of earnings over and above parliamentary earnings would not on the whole-particularly from the National Party, many of whose members own substantial properties-be a source of joy for them in political questions. I assume, however, that there is never much embarrassment circulating in the National Party about anything so we must expect that type of question from National Party members. As a matter of fact, today I shall be tabling in this House a paper on suggested courses of action dealing with appropriate means of registering or otherwise lobbyists of both members of government and of the Public Service. The problem of lobbyists in this country, as all honourable gentlemen would be aware, is not new. The difference between this Government and our predecessors is that we are in the business of establishing an appropriate form of regulation of lobbyists that will ensure that their relationship with government, with the Public Service and with parliament is based on the highest possible standards of the officers concerned and the functions that they perform . It is high time that some attention is devoted to that.

Of course, lobbyists have been a problem with us for some time. Our predecessors in government managed to do nothing about it. We will, in fact, act effectively and in a timely fashion to deal with it. I direct the honourable member's attention to the paper I will shortly be tabling and encourage him to put in a constructive response to it. If he reads it and looks at what we are trying to do he may be able to restrain himself in the future from asking such smart-Alick questions in this House.