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Tuesday, 8 May 1973
Page: 1843

Mr Garland asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

(1)   Can he provide a separate answer to each part of my question No. 142 (Hansard, 13th March 1973, page 533); if not, why not.

(2)   Will he now give me an assuurance that neither he nor any member of his staff unofficially gave the media information that Dr S. Fitzgerald was to be appointed by him as Australia's Ambassador to the People's Republic of China, when he officially stated he could not announce the name of the Ambassador until the Chinese Government had agreed; if not, why not.

(3)   Did the information reach the press by way of (a) unofficial advice by himself, (b) unofficial advice by a member of his staff, (c) Dr Fitzgerald or (d) the Chinese Government.

(4)   Did he make inquiries of each of his staff before or after answering my earlier question in order to determine how this information reached the media; if not, why not.

(5)   If an assurance from each member of his staff has not been received will he now obtain one; if not, why not.

(6)   Does he acknowledge that a significant lack of confidence would be displayed in an Australian Government when announcements that cannot be officially made, because of the necessity of obtaining the agreement or opinion of a foreign government, immediately become known unofficially or are such matters of little consequence.

(7)   Will he, on this occasion give specific replies to each of the questions raised, and not an unspecific general answer which leaves questions not fully and responsively answered.

Mr Whitlam - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   My answer to parts (2) and (3) of Question No. 142 can be divided into separate answers as follows:

(2)   There was unofficial speculation by the media about who might be appointed and the name of the Ambassador-designate was mentioned in that context.

(3)   The speculation was without authority from me or my staff. (2)-(7) I do not consider that the press speculation that Dr Fitzgerald's name had been put forward is of sufficient consequence to warrant an investigation as to whether or by whom such information was given unofficially to the press. I have nothing further to add to my answer to Question No. 142.

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