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Tuesday, 28 June 1994
Page: 2113

Senator CAMPBELL —Mr Acting Deputy President, under standing order 191, I wish to make an explanation of my speech. Unfortunately, Labor senators opposite had very little material to go with, so they sought to misquote, misrepresent and misunderstand a number of sections of my speech.

  The first occasion on which this occurred was when Senator Carr referred to my alternative plan for Casselden Place. He said that my plan would ensure that the taxpayer would have to meet a bill of an extra $1 million a year. That is either a misquoting or, to be kind, a misunderstanding of it. My plan for Casselden Place was quite clear, and that was that it should not be built; even if were half-built, my plan was to knock the silly thing over. Without any shadow of a doubt—without any question—if Casselden Place had never been built it would have saved the Australian population in the realm of $1.2 million to $1.5 million a month for at least the next 7 1/2 years. If all Department of Administrative Services employees had been placed in a privately owned building, that would have been a saving—there can be no question.

  So that is a total misquoting, misunderstanding or misrepresentation of what I have said. Perhaps that is what Senator Carr needed to do to make his point, because it is very hard to defend the massive waste this government has entered into.

  The next area of misquoting or misunderstanding was clearly when Senator Burns sought to talk about the tax effects of waste in Australia. He said that Australia had one of the lowest levels of taxation in the OECD and one of the smallest governments in the OECD. In my speech, I sought to assert that waste in Australia puts our tax up.

Senator Burns —Mr Acting Deputy President, on a point of order. Senator Campbell is re-debating the question. I do not believe that that is permitted under standing orders.

  The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McGauran)—Matters of personal explanation are always grey areas. Senator Campbell is going into depth and is staying within the bounds by continuing to talk about the Public Service, and I will allow him to continue.

Senator CAMPBELL —I appreciate that, Mr Acting Deputy President. I have read the standing order very carefully and I do understand that I cannot introduce new matter and engage in any further debate on the matter. I am sticking as closely as I can to that standing order. I say the impact of waste is high tax. Senator Burns says that, even if this waste did occur a little bit, Australia is not a high tax country. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard—I am sorry I did not have the time to show it to Senator Sherry before this—a small graph from the Economist magazine of 4 December 1993, which shows income tax as a percentage of gross earnings and that in 1992 Australia was the fifth highest out of all OECD nations in taxes on families on average wages with two children. I seek leave to incorporate that in Hansard.

Senator Sherry —Mr Acting Deputy President, on a point of order—this will give Senator Campbell his answer. I would have thought that he is introducing a new matter under standing order 191 and, therefore, he is not permitted to table new material as evidence in his speech. So, we do not give leave.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Leave is not granted.

Senator Sherry —I would like your ruling on that point of order.

Senator Campbell —Mr Acting Deputy President, on the point of order. If the government is refusing leave for me to incorporate this table then it is refusing leave. But I am debating a point about levels of taxation as a result of waste. It is a matter on which I believe I have been misquoted. I seek to redress that by incorporating a table in Hansard. If I am being refused leave because the Labor Party does not like the true facts to be on the Australian record then that leave is refused and I will have to wear it.

Senator Sherry —I got up on a point of order on your interpretation of 191. We will get to the next issue when we get to it.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —On the matter of relevance or a matter of tabling the material?

Senator Sherry —New material.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Probably the best answer to that is in your own hands, Minister. It is more in your hands than mine if you do not allow leave to table the document.

Senator Sherry —With due respect to you, I put a point of order to you. You either have to agree or disagree and make a ruling. We will get to the next matter in a moment, if we need to.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —On the matter of general relevance of Senator Campbell, I have already ruled on that. I am allowing Senator Campbell to continue. The matter of the OECD tax relevance was raised by Senator Burns, so it does fall within the bounds of the debate itself. On the matter of whether he can table that document or not, again, I say that if you give him leave to table the document then that is all right. Am I missing your point?

Senator Sherry —Yes. My point is this: the tabling of a document, I would argue, is new material within the meaning of standing order 191. I am asking for your ruling on whether it is new material or not.

Senator O'Chee —Mr Acting Deputy President, on the point of order: I think I can clarify it for you and set Senator Sherry's mind right. Standing order 191 says quite clearly that a Senator `shall not introduce any new matter', meaning any new topic. Material which explains the speech is quite in order in 191 provided debatable matter is not introduced. Clearly, a graph which sets out certain facts which clarify a point already made by Senator Campbell is not a new matter and not a debatable matter. Therefore, Mr Acting Deputy President, I would respectfully suggest to you that Senator Sherry is quite clearly off the point. I respect his good endeavours on behalf of the government but I do not think they are particularly consistent with standing orders.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Are there any other points of order?

Senator Burns —Yes. The standing order 191 states:

  A Senator who has spoken to a question may again be heard, to explain some material part of the Senator's speech which has been misquoted or misunderstood,—

I certainly did not misquote it. I certainly did not misunderstand it. I argued with it and put forward some alternative views.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Sherry, I think you make a very academic point. Again I say you need not give leave to table it because I am allowing Senator Campbell-

Senator Burns —What about my point of order? I do not believe he should be allowed to continue.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —On the point of relevance?

Senator Burns —Standing order 191 does not allow him to continue.

Senator O'Chee —He is going onto another area where you have misunderstood him.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Perhaps I will deal with Senator Sherry first, Senator Burns and then I may consult the Clerk on your point of order. Because I have allowed Senator Campbell to continue on the point of relevance, if you claim that his point was irrelevant, I rule that it is relevant. On the point of whether the graph is relevant or not, because I ruled that his speech is relevant, if that helps Senator Campbell explain his misrepresentation, it would follow that his graph is relevant. So I will allow the incorporation of the graph. It is up to you whether you give him leave.

Senator Sherry —If I could firstly ask you to further clarify that ruling with the President, I will not disagree with you. That leaves me with no other option but to accept the incorporation of the document for obvious reasons, otherwise I would be moving a dissent from your ruling.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —No. Just to clarify that, I am allowing the seeking of leave to incorporate the table, and that was your question. Again, you would not be dissenting from my ruling if you did not allow leave, not that I am encouraging you to do so.

Senator Sherry —If you do not see any inconsistency in my position, we will not give you leave.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Leave is not granted. I will have to deal with Senator Burns' point of order but first I will consult the Clerk. Senator Burns has brought up an academic point. He misunderstood your misunderstanding. By his misunderstanding your misunderstanding, I will stick to my original ruling that Senator Campbell is still relevant. And, from the Clerk's understanding, that was your point of order.

Senator Burns —I believe that he departed from his right under standing order 191, yes.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I call Senator Campbell to continue.

Senator CAMPBELL —Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. I clearly misunderstood but was relevant at the same time. I am genuinely upset that I have not been allowed to incorporate this table. It is a public document. It was in the Economist of 4 December 1993. I sought leave to incorporate it because it would add to the historical record of this important debate. Has the government refused leave or given leave?

Senator Sherry —No.

Senator CAMPBELL —Leave was given in the first instance.

Senator Sherry —No. I was testing the opinion of the President.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —He refused leave.

Senator CAMPBELL —I will put it out in a press release and hope that Senator Burns reads it. I will conclude on the third point where I was both misquoted and misunderstood, and that was with regard to the waste in relation to the staff adjustment program. Senator Burns accused me—I did not take a point of order; I should have—of being dishonest and dishonestly misrepresenting the facts. The facts that I quoted in relation to both the floating pontoon and the Norfolk Island public interest work were 100 per cent true. The information was provided by the Department of Administrative Services and we acted entirely on that advice. We did not at any time seek to misrepresent the information. Indeed, there was some clarification as to the information regarding the $145,000 salaries for the floating pontoon and I think $90,000 in salaries for the Norfolk Island heritage work. However, that was clarified by officers of the department at estimates last week and they understood entirely why the information they provided me may have been misunderstood. So we had a situation where not only I am misunderstood—I hope I am not now—but the Department of Administrative Services was misunderstood. But it is certainly not dishonestly misrepresented.