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Monday, 6 December 1999
Page: 12806

Mr BEAZLEY —My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Do you recall saying on 28 October in relation to the recent cash for comment controversy:

I stated a principle which remains valid today, and that is that I have always assumed that, when I hear somebody expressing a view on something, it is their own view and it is not in any way instructed by financial reward.

Does this principle continue to remain valid today?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I was asked, when I was in New York in the wake of the allegations that appeared on, I think, the Richard Ackland program, Mediawatch , what I thought of the allegations. I think on that occasion I said that I was not going to get into the detail of holding judgment on individuals, but I thought the most appropriate thing that I could do was to state a principle in relation to people who make comment on talkback radio or television, or in the media generally. I am happy to stand by what I said in New York. I think it is a sound principle. When I hear somebody say, `I think what the government has done is right' or `I think what the government has done is wrong' or `I think the opposition is right' or `I think the opposition is wrong,' I assume that they say that because that is the view they hold. I am prepared to state that as a principle and let its application in relation to individuals fall where it may. I have not as yet been apprised of the findings of the ABA for the very simple reason that I do not think they have made any. I have watched the inquiry with interest, as no doubt all honourable members have. The principle that I stated in New York remains my view and we will see how it applies to the findings of the inquiry.