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Tuesday, 11 September 1984
Page: 841

Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(10.41) —I do not think that the people of Australia whom Senator Townley called in aid tonight will be very impressed by his contribution to the adjournment debate. He expressly did not claim that all the appointments on his list were inappropriate; nor could he. A huge number of appointments are made by any government to statutory positions on boards, authorities and the like. Very many of those are filled perfectly appropriately by people with special interests or backgrounds, including in particular trade union officials, given the character of our economy and the desirability of that interest being represented in many different kinds of public positions.

He did not in fact claim that any single position was inappropriately filled except that of the Chairman of the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission when, no doubt in pursuit of some ancient Tasmanian tribal feud, he drew attention to the alleged incapacity or inappropri- ateness of Mr Neil Batt for that job. Of course, he utterly overlooked the fact that the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories is a major commercial operation and Mr Neil Batt for many years since his withdrawal from the Tasmanian political scene has been a very prominent man of commerce engaged in a major executive role with Sir Peter Abeles's business organisation, Ansett Transport Industries Ltd.

What Senator Townley has done tonight has left a trail of defamatory imputations about all the people whose names he has incorporated on the record, using even at one stage the language 'corruption, degrading public life'. It was wholly inappropriate language. It was a squalid speech and it will be regarded as such.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 10.43 p.m.