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Wednesday, 6 June 2001
Page: 27395

Mr BEVIS (2:19 PM) —My question without notice is to the Prime Minister. Do you recall saying on Monday that in the case of One.Tel:

Well look I think everybody who's been involved in this company has some moral obligation to see the workers helped out, that's my position. Everybody involved in it has a moral obligation to see that these people are helped out.

Prime Minister, did you apply this same principle in the case of National Textiles? If so, what contribution did you seek from the directors of National Textiles towards payment of their employees' entitlements?

Mr HOWARD (Prime Minister) —My understanding in relation to the workers' entitlements is that, even before the contributions offered—and they were conditionally offered—by Mr Rich and Mr Keeling, there were sufficient resources within the company to meet—

Mr Bevis —That remains to be seen.

Mr HOWARD —Well, that is the information. The honourable gentleman who asked the question may have a superior fund of knowledge on this than I have, but my understanding—

Mr HOWARD —I am trying to be generous to the honourable gentleman. He may have a superior fund of knowledge on this. Some of his colleagues from Queensland are not being very generous about his frontbench future; and it is spreading. A few people have got him marked down, too. I think that fellow called Ludwig has got him in his gun sights.

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr Leo McLeay —What about Stan?

Mr SPEAKER —The Chief Opposition Whip! The Prime Minister has the call.

Mr HOWARD —My understanding is that there were resources and sufficient assets there to meet the workers' entitlements, even without the contributions, if they come through, of Mr Keeling and Mr Rich. I say in relation to that that there is an element of conditionality in relation to their commitments. I would hope that those bonuses are paid back, irrespective of whether the money comprising the bonuses is needed for the workers' entitlements. The clear difference between this case and National Textiles was that there were no bonuses in the case of National Textiles.

Mr Bevis —Did you ask Stan to put anything in?

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Brisbane!

Mr Bevis —Did you ask Stan to put anything in?

Mr SPEAKER —The member for Brisbane is defying the chair. Has the Prime Minister concluded his answer?

Mr Howard —Yes.