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Friday, 10 May 1985
Page: 1717

Senator LEWIS —by leave-Last night I apologised to the Minister for Territories (Mr Scholes) and to the Senate for misleading it in connection with the dismissal of members of the Parliament House Construction Authority. I confirm and repeat those apologies. Afterwards, I was telephoned by an Australian Broadcasting Corporation journalist-and I thank him for doing so-who said that he believed that he would have been the original source of the information I used. He told me that on the day when the Minister announced the dismissals he, the journalist, had telephoned one of those dismissed and had been told by that person that this was the first he had heard of the dismissal. The journalist had endeavoured to contact the other dismissed gentleman but without success. The next day the story was run as a news item on the ABC which is why so many of us heard and remembered it. The journalist advised me that neither he nor the ABC had received any denial of the story from the Minister or his staff.

I place no blame on the Minister or his staff for not denying the story. They may not have heard it or had it brought to their attention. Also, I recognise that they have much more important things to do than run around denying stories of journalists. They may even have considered the story and decided to let it go through to the keeper on the basis that the decision had already received enough publicity without adding to it. Likewise, I also considered allowing this story to go through to the keeper, but on reflection I decided that it would be wise to let it be made known because so many of us had heard it.