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Tuesday, 11 October 1983
Page: 1538

Mr HOWARD —My question is directed to the Minister for Finance and follows his declaration of ignorance about the shareholdings of the company Coomel Pty Ltd. Is it a fact that the Minister was a director of that company for 10 years? Did that period of directorship cover the period-

Mr SPEAKER —Order! At least two questions that have been asked today have been out of order because they have been addressed to a Minister about details of his personal affairs and not about matters of his administration. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition reflects on it he will find he is addressing the question to the wrong person.

Mr Sinclair —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I think you would acknowledge that the fact that the Prime Minister tabled a declaration of ministerial pecuniary interests, and a motion was passed by this House which refers the question of other members' pecuniary interests to a Standing Orders Committee for consideration, changes the character of those private members' interests. It is true that in the ordinary course, prior to that motion, there is little doubt that your ruling would prevail, but I suggest that in the light of the declaration of the pecuniary interests the matter is now not the same and that the question is quite in order.

Mr SPEAKER —The Deputy Leader of the National Party goes to two points. He refers, first of all, to the declaration of pecuniary interests by Ministers, which is a matter for the Prime Minister to deal with. Secondly, he mentions the referral by the House of such questions about declaration by honourable members of their pecuniary interest to the Standing Orders Committee. A decision has not yet been made on that matter and will not be made in the House until such time as the Standing Orders Committee deals with it.

Mr HOWARD —Mr Speaker, in view of your ruling, I will ask the question of the Prime Minister: Was the honourable gentleman aware of the shareholding of Coomel Pty Ltd in Metro Industries Ltd when he made his statement over the weekend that he was totally satisfied that, so far as he was concerned, the Minister was clean in taxation matters?

Mr HAWKE —Obviously the answer to the honourable member's question is that I was not aware of the shareholdings of the company. The clear position here is-

Mr McVeigh —You are in trouble.

Mr HAWKE —I am in no trouble, nor is the Minister for Finance. The Minister for Finance made it quite clear that he was prepared to examine the facts. I have no doubt that once he has examined the facts he will be quite prepared to make those facts available to the House.