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Thursday, 11 October 1973
Page: 1931

Mr HANSEN (WIDE BAY, QUEENSLAND) - I preface my question to the Minister for Services and Property by referring to yesterday's sudden resignation by Spiro Agnew as Vice-President of the United States and of his subsequent conviction by a district court for, among other things, failing to reveal donations which were made to his campaign funds. I ask the Minister whether there is any evidence of this kind of malpractice in Australian politics. If so, will he consider appointing a royal commission to inquire into the matter or take other appropriate steps to protect the Australian parliamentary institution from the kind of corruption instanced in the Watergate scandal and in the more recent case of the VicePresident of the United States?

Mr DALY - I would say that it is possible that money is being provided to certain people and poltical parties in Australia to carry out a campaign for certain vested interests, some of which are multi-national corporations. I am advised, for instance, that there is a foreign finance minerals lobby operating in Australia. This, combined with the sustained questioning of and sustained attacks upon the Minister for Minerals and Energy, gives some substance to the point of view involved in the question. I am also disturbed by the recent revelation by the Minister for Immigration that a sum of $lm has been donated to the Liberal and Country Parties by foreign interests with a view to defeating the popularly elected Government. Further reports indicate that Liberal campaign funds are overflowing because foreign and local interests are providing funds to ensure that the Government is defeated. The events at Watergate and the recent resignation of the Vice-President of the United States indicate the seriousness of matters of this kind.

The honourable gentleman asked whether I will consider appointing a royal commission or take some other suitable action. The statements in the question require very serious consideration as there would appear from the events in this Parliament in recent times to be substance to the thought that there could be another Watergate in Australia. The Government is considering appropriate action legislatively and the question of a royal commission also will receive consideration because we do not believe that any political party in this country should receive foreign funds without the source of those funds being revealed.

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