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Tuesday, 16 October 1984
Page: 1746

Senator TEAGUE —Mr President, I seek leave to make a personal explanation.

Leave granted.

Senator TEAGUE —Last Wednesday in the Senate there was a spirited debate during Question Time about the Labor Government's assets test and my opposition to it. Senator Elstob alleged that I had made a statement in the Press in South Australia in these terms:

. . . that the social security inspectors will enter people's homes to assess personal assets when the assets test is introduced.

Since that time I have been able to read the Hansard and check the Press. No such statement appears anywhere in the Press in South Australia. I ask Senator Elstob and Senator Grimes to acknowledge that at no stage have I referred to inspectors entering people's homes.

That is the first point. The second point is that, based on that statement, Senator Grimes went on to say that this was a deliberate lie on my part, and he withdrew that at your request, Mr President. The third point is that he said this was the technique of using the big lie. He did not withdraw that, despite Senator Missen's appeal on my behalf, because he was not asked to do so by you, Mr President. The fourth matter which I include in this personal explanation is that Senator Grimes alleged that this claimed statement, for which there is no foundation, was made with the obvious intention of worrying elderly people. I reject that, first of all because I did not make the statement, and secondly because I do not intend to worry elderly people.

But there is one other matter. He referred to my maiden speech in the Senate six years ago and said that I had 'made great play' of the fact that I was a Christian. Without boring the Senate, in a good natured way I will quote the one sentence from my maiden speech which refers to this. I said:

As a Christian I believe parliament's authority is derived from God and, thus, it is entirely right that we begin our parliamentary sittings each day in prayer asking the Lord's blessing and direction that our work be to the glory of God and to the true welfare of the people of Australia.

I claim to have been misrepresented in all those respects. I ask that those matters that refer to the technique of the deliberate lie be withdrawn by Senator Grimes and especially the statement made by Senator Elstob. Finally-

The PRESIDENT —Order! The honourable senator is not entitled to ask for anything in making a personal explanation by leave. He can make a personal explanation and that is all. That is all he has been given leave to do.

Senator TEAGUE —I take your advice, Mr President. I certainly want to make it clear in my personal explanation that I have been misrepresented in those four ways. The only reference to the assets test in the media, not in the Press, in South Australia in the past week was to a radio statement which has been given some cover in which I used the phrase 'intruding into your lives'. I maintain that that is no basis for the alleged statement 'inspectors are entering into your homes'. I make that personal explanation because I believe that in this matter as in every other matter, however much we may oppose a policy of the Government such as this assets test, there is an obligation on all of us to speak the truth and not provoke one another in the Senate by making false claims .