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Wednesday, 10 February 1999
Page: 2338

Mr BEAZLEY —My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, under your watered-down code of conduct, is it not a fact that a future minister for coal who owns shares in a coalmine is allowed to divest control to a trust or non-dependent family member? What is to stop the minister from ringing their trustee or non-dependent family member every day to find out how their shares are going? Wouldn't this allow potential conflicts of interest to arise regularly?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —I would have thought the question was a tad hypothetical.

Mr Beazley —Oh really?

Mr Crean —That's Warwick Parer.

Mr SPEAKER —I believe the Prime Minister is right and that the question is hypothetical. I thought he was seeking to elaborate, and that is why I allowed him to continue.

Mr HOWARD —I repeat what I said. I think the Leader of the Opposition's question is a tad hypothetical. I repeat that these changes were essentially recommended by the Prime Minister's department in the brief to the incoming government. They make the guidelines contemporary, they make the guidelines realistic. Frankly, I am totally relaxed about the changes that have been made, and so are all members of the government.