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Thursday, 18 September 2003
Page: 20517

Ms ROXON (3:11 PM) —My question is again to the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and it concerns comments that he made on the 7.30 Report on 3 July this year where he stated:

Let me make it very clear that I have made it known over a very long period of time that no individual has greater capacity to access me than any other. Yes, I have heard some people assert that Mr Kisrwani may well have been holding himself out to be able to access me where other people couldn't get access. If he was doing that it was wrong.

Is it not true, Minister, that Mr Peter Knobel from your office has admitted that he speaks to Mr Kisrwani several times each week about various migration matters?

Mr Crean —What—a travel agent!

The SPEAKER —The member for Gellibrand has the call and she will be heard in silence, including by the Leader of the Opposition.

Ms ROXON —Minister, given that this means that Mr Kisrwani would have spoken to the minister's office over a thousand times since the minister took on this job, does this not indicate that Mr Kisrwani has special access?

Mrs Bronwyn Bishop —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. It has become a practice of the member, it seems, to ask lengthy questions. I would refer you to page 527 of the House of Representatives Practice, where it says that questions:

... may not become lengthy speeches or statements and they may not in themselves suggest an answer.

In every case the member's question does precisely that and I would ask you to rule it out of order.

The SPEAKER —It has been the practice for questions to be much too lengthy for probably the last 15 years. It would be helpful if they were shorter. However, the question asked by the member for Gellibrand did not go beyond what has become tolerated practice.

Mr RUDDOCK (Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Reconciliation) —I stand by the comments I made on the 7.30 Report. I have absolutely no control over how many times people ring me or who rings me.