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Wednesday, 3 October 1984
Page: 1137

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Social Security) —Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to make a personal explanation as I claim to have been misrepresented by Senator Walters.

Leave granted.

Senator GRIMES —Hansard will show that Senator Walters said: 'I am sitting down early so that Senator Grimes can get up and explain, if he believes it, that people can put all their money into jewellery and that therefore it will not be counted as personal effects and they can leave them for their children'. Hansard will show that. I will not go on with it. That is what she said. We will certainly not send inspectors in to value people's engagement rings. She knows that.

As to the second matter she raised, I quite specifically said, when the previous assets test was proposed, that at least one or two couples had claimed that they went into Senator Walters's office and were told that the best thing they could do was to sell up their assets because if Senator Grimes and his Government got hold of them they would be counted in and they would lose their pensions.

Senator Walters —What verification have you got for that?

Senator GRIMES —Senator Walters should wait a minute. We wanted verification of it. What we did was to get someone to ring Senator Walters's office to see whether that was the sort of advice that she was giving. That is what happened.

Senator Walters —You are not telling the truth.

Senator GRIMES —Senator Walters knows that that is true. She knows the sorts of things she was saying. I suggest that she ask some of her colleagues what she was saying. Maybe she does not know what she was saying at the time. It was the same in the debate this afternoon.

Senator Messner —Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order. I do not think beyond any shadow of doubt it can be said that Senator Grimes is not debating the issue. He is certainly not making any kind of personal explanation. All he is doing is arguing the point about what facts were or were not in the matter that Senator Walters raised. For that reason I ask you to rule him out of order.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —There is a danger of these personal explanations turning into debate. I was fairly lenient with Senator Walters. I am extending the same level of leniency to Senator Grimes. I ask him to keep it in the level of where he has been misrepresented.

Senator GRIMES —Mr Deputy President, I just say in passing that I agree with you entirely. I think the number of personal explanations that are being made in this place, in an effort to answer debating points, is ludicrous. With due respect, it is only a recent phenomenon since the present Opposition has been in opposition. I make one final point. Hansard will also show that Senator Walters said this afternoon that Senator Richardson, Senator Gietzelt and, she now says, Senator Giles were taking credit for removing the family home from the latest assets test, whereas it was in the first assets test. I point out that the family home has never been included in any assets test proposed by me or the present Government. If Senator Walters is that confused, it demonstrates how she can be confused in other areas.