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Tuesday, 23 April 1985
Page: 1352

Senator ROBERT RAY —I direct my question to Senator Walsh in his capacity as Acting Treasurer. No doubt the Minister is aware that the past Director of the National Party in Queensland, Mike Evans, in evidence to the Joint Select Committee on Electoral Reform in 1983, indicated that donations to the Bjelke-Petersen Foundation are tax deductible by writing off large donations as advertising costs. I therefore ask: Is it possible that those who purchased knighthoods in Queensland have been given a tax deduction by this Government? Can the Minister guarantee that no public money by way of taxes or Totalisator Administration Board revenue has been used to facilitate the purchasing of knighthoods?

Senator WALSH —I acknowledge that I have a rather hazy recollection of Mr Evans making the sort of statement that Senator Robert Ray attributes to him; that is, that donations to the Bjelke-Petersen Foundation will be tax deductible. I do not know whether that statement is correct, but I shall endeavour to check that up with the Commissioner of Taxation to see whether those deductions are in fact allowed. Assuming that they are allowed, it seems to me, unfortunately, highly likely that a knighthood for Sir Edward Lyons was purchased because he made a large donation to the Bjelke-Petersen Foundation. If that happened, it is regrettable that it happened. When a national government makes laws which are deemed to be appropriate for the country as a whole, it is a pity if deviant States abuse those laws in the way that there is a prima facie case that they have been abused in Queensland.

On the broader question of that particular knighthood, I noted with some satisfaction this morning-I trust that the report was correct-that Mr Hinze has overridden the objections of the Premier, who was endeavouring to protect his good friend Sir Edward Lyons, who, as Chairman of the Totalisator Administration Board of Queensland, was a party to a decision to invest TAB funds with a company of which Sir Edward Lyons was either the sole or part proprietor, which was, of course, a clear breach of the Queensland TAB Act. That sort of behaviour did not distress the Premier at all, obviously because he continued to support Sir Edward Lyons. But apparently Mr Hinze thought it was a bit rough and a bit more than they could get away with even in Queensland. Mr Hinze is not a man known to shirk--

Senator Ryan —He is not noted for his delicacy.

Senator WALSH —Yes, he could be so described.

The PRESIDENT —Order! The Minister is getting well away from the provisions of the taxation laws of this country. I ask him to come back to the question.

Senator WALSH —I certainly shall, Mr President. Mr Hinze is not the most highly regarded politician in Australia, but I am sure many people will be relieved to know that he is not quite as bad as the Premier of Queensland.