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Wednesday, 11 December 2002
Page: 7732

Senator CARR (2:46 PM) —My question without notice is to Senator Coonan, the Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer. Does the minister stand by her statement to the Senate on 2 December, when she said:

I have absolutely no interest, and never have had any interest, in any property at Clareville.

Or, again, when she said:

I believe it belongs to my husband. I do not know whether it belongs to interests associated with my husband ... I do not know very much about this property, and I am really unable to help Senator Faulkner as to how it is registered.

Does the minister recall confirming this statement on 3 December, when she said:

We do not have a joint interest in the property that is in question.

What did the minister mean by the term `interest' in these statements?

Senator COONAN (Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer) —The answer to that question is yes.

Senator CARR —Mr Deputy President, I ask a supplementary question. I asked the minister a direct question: how does she define `interest' in these statements? She has failed to answer that question. I would ask her to do that now. Further, can the minister confirm that the site plan, the site works plan and the landscape planting plan documents lodged with Pittwater Council in relation to the Paradise Avenue, Clareville residence clearly indicate that she and her husband were the joint clients of both the architect and the landscape architect for the 1994 renovations of the property? Don't these documents demonstrate that both Senator Coonan and her husband were acting jointly in the renovations of the Clareville property, the same property she told the Senate that she knew very little about?

Senator Hill —Mr Deputy President, on a point of order: this is in no way a supplementary question. It certainly does not arise out of the answer that was given. It is a whole range of assertions by Senator Carr. He could have framed it in terms of his primary question, which might have been legitimate, but he chose not to do that. This was the trick in the tail but, unfortunately, the whole scheme did not work out. I therefore suggest to you, Mr Deputy President, whatever it might be—apart from a rant and a rave—it certainly is not a supplementary question.

Senator Faulkner —I raise another point of order, Mr Deputy President. You know as well as I do that whenever Senator Hill does not want someone to answer a supplementary question he takes the same old point of order. It has never had any standing or status. It has never been agreed to by previous presidents. I respectfully suggest to you, Mr Deputy President, that this fairly transparent attempt by Senator Hill to try and stop the supplementary question being answered just be ruled out of order and that we get on with it.

Senator Alston —Mr Deputy President, on a point of order: I think it is very unfair of Senator Faulkner to think that he can get away with putting something over you as blatantly as that. He did not for a moment attempt to suggest that there was any standing order—

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Alston, what is your point of order?

Senator Alston —My point of order is that there is a standing order that supports what Senator Hill says and there cannot possibly be a standing order supporting what Senator Faulkner said, because all that Senator Faulkner basically said was that this is a tired strategy. That is not a point of order. If he wants to point to any standing order that contradicts Senator Hill's proposition he should do so, but I can assure you he will not because he cannot.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —There is no point of order. That part of the question which is capable of being answered by the minister should be answered. Other parts which do not apply to the minister, in accordance with the previous ruling by the President, need not be addressed.

Senator COONAN (Minister for Revenue and Assistant Treasurer) —I have, as I have said before, no legal and no beneficial interest in the property at Clareville. The development application that I think was being referred to—although I could barely hear Senator Carr—was lodged on behalf of my husband by the builder or the architect working on the project. I was not consulted by the builder or the architect about the description used in the development application, and I have never been known as Helen Rogers. I have absolutely no equitable or legal interest in the property—I certainly wish I did because it would obviously mean that I had something of value—and you will never be able to prove it because it does not exist.

Honourable senators interjecting

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Will senators carry on the discussion outside after question time; it would be far more valuable.