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Wednesday, 23 March 1994
Page: 2061

Senator ABETZ —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories. Could the minister inform the Senate what the government's attitude is to funding of political organisations that breach the laws of the various states? In particular, I refer to the Wilderness Society, which has been the benefactor of federal government funds in excess of $1 million since 1983. I refer the minister to a raffle being conducted in my state, Tasmania, by the Wilderness Society which is apparently in breach of the Tasmanian gaming laws in that its tickets, firstly, do not state the full name and postal address of the organisation and, secondly, do not disclose the Tasmanian Gaming Commission permit number. Further, the Wilderness Society has not paid the statutory fee to the Tasmanian government to allow the Wilderness Society to run the raffle. Will the government reconsider its funding of this organisation?

Senator FAULKNER —I am not actually aware of the details of the Wilderness Society raffle in Tasmania. On this matter I am willing to plead guilty. I will pass the substance of the question to the minister for the environment. I am aware, however, that a range of opposition senators has placed wagers with a range of government senators on the results of recent elections. I am also aware that they have all lost. As a result, the size of our wallets is larger. I am also aware that that activity from opposition senators, albeit helpful for our bank balances, is illegal.

Senator Panizza —I raise a point of order. Mr President, I draw your attention to the fact that the minister's answer is not relevant. He pleaded guilty to not knowing anything about the question. I think you should sit him down and he can come back with the answer when he has got it instead of rambling on.

The PRESIDENT —I uphold the point of order. The minister was certainly digressing considerably from the point.

Senator FAULKNER —I will refer the remaining part of Senator Abetz's question that I have not been able to answer to Senator Richardson on his return. I do not doubt that he will be very keen to provide Senator Abetz with a response on all the details. But one thing is for sure: Senator Abetz apparently will not be winning the raffle, and his colleagues have not won very much on that side of the parliament lately either.