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Monday, 20 May 1985
Page: 2134

Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition) —by leave-On 14 May an answer was given by the Minister for Community Services, Senator Grimes, in response to a question by Senator Cook. That case was a similar sort of animal to the one we have been discussing, in the sense that the object was to give a serve to Mr Barry Blaikie, who is a local member of parliament in the south-west of Western Australia. Senator Cook's question referred to an article in the South Western Times, which is a well known newspaper circulating in the Bunbury-Busselton region of Western Australia. It raised allegations about what Mr Blaikie was doing in that area. Senator Grimes, in the course of his reply, suddenly dropped in another name. He said:

The second thing is that the article in the South Western Times was written by Mr Bruce Breslin, a well known Liberal Party member in the area who was a candidate for Liberal Party pre-selection.

This is a classic setup of a local Liberal member cooking up a story to get his name in the paper . . .

I had representations from Mr Bruce Breslin over the weekend about this matter. He asked me to put it on the record in the Senate, where the allegation was made, that the story referred to in Senator Cook's question and Senator Grimes's reply was not written by him. It was written apparently, by another journalist on the South Western Times. I understand it was not on the byline, but in any event it was certainly not Mr Breslin's article.

That raises the question of how his name came to be mentioned at all, because it was not actually mentioned in the question, but I do not know that we will ever find that out, unless the Minister chooses to tell us. The clear inference from the way Mr Breslin's name was mentioned and the context in which it was mentioned was that Mr Breslin, a professional journalist, was party to a cooked up story. Whatever argument one might have about the rest of the answer, I think that Mr Breslin has been unfairly treated by the suggestion that he, a professional journalist, was a party to something that might be described as a rort. It would certainly be described as such by the Minister. So on behalf of my constituent and in response to his representations, I want to put those facts on the record. On the face of what I have been told, it would appear to me that the comments made in respect of Mr Breslin are unjustified and are an inaccurate attack on him. I believe that in those circumstances it would be appropriate for the Minister to withdraw those comments and to apologise for any reflection on Mr Breslin.