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Wednesday, 4 November 1992
Page: 2547

Mr REITH —My question is directed to the Treasurer, and I refer him to his last answer. Now that the terms of reference for the Senate inquiry into the Loan Council have been agreed to by the Senate, will you or will you not personally appear before the Senate committee? If you will not, why should the public not conclude from that that you are still trying to cover up?

  Government members interjecting

Mr SPEAKER —Order! Members of the Government will cease interjecting.

Mr DAWKINS —The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has been going around the press gallery saying that he is a hound; he is going to hound me. I just ask you all to beware because next Tuesday is a full moon and we will see him howling even louder, presumably. I just refer to what Senator Coulter said today. He said:

Secondly it is true that we can't force a minister or indeed any member of the House of Representatives to appear before a Senate committee . . . it is simply not true that the Treasurer said he would not cooperate with the committee.

Senator Coulter is right on both counts. Mr Sattler asked:

But he said you have got no right to demand that he appear before you, isn't that correct?

Senator Coulter replied:

That is absolutely right, we can't demand nor do we have that power. I mean similarly the House of Representatives committee cannot force a Senator to appear before that committee.

This is a question of the prerogatives of the House. But I will say again to the honourable member—

Mr Reith —Will you go personally?

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Deputy Leader will cease interjecting.

Mr DAWKINS —The point about you is that you are rather like Lucy out of the Peanuts cartoon: if you cannot be right, you decide to be wrong very loudly. That is your problem. What I have said is that if this is an attempt by the Senate, as Senator Coulter has said, to look sensibly at how these procedures can be improved—

Mr Reith —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order under standing order 145 on the question of relevance. The question was whether he would personally attend. You should either require the Minister to answer the question or sit him down under that standing order.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Minister is perfectly in order in answering the question. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition continues to interject and take points of order such as that, I will deal with him.

Mr DAWKINS —The point is that I would not even expect to be called. I think this committee is going to be a big non-event. What I will be doing is getting on with the business of government and taking to the Loan Council some sensible ideas about how its arrangements might be changed. Let me just repeat what I said, because the honourable member for Flinders is either hard of hearing or slow of understanding. I said that if, as Senator Coulter maintains, it is a sensible exercise to look at the powers of the Loan Council, of course we will cooperate, as we cooperate with all Senate inquiries. But, if it is just another one of your stunts, I will treat it accordingly.