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Tuesday, 11 December 1973
Page: 2626

Senator CARRICK (NEW SOUTH WALES) - My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. It concerns the principle of ministerial responsibility and in particular the pronouncements of Ministers at public functions both in Australia and in foreign countries. Is it not a fact that all such ministerial statements must be regarded as having Government authority and support unless accompanied by a clear qualification that the statement is only the personal opinion of the

Minister? If not, how can anyone ever know whether a Minister is voicing his personal views or those of his government? Is not a Minister bound to express in public functions when representing Australia the determined attitudes and policies of his Cabinet?

Senator MURPHY -I think there is a general principle that when a Minister is speaking publicly he is speaking on behalf of the Government but that may be qualified, as the honourable senator indicates, either by some explicit statement or by the context of the function. There may be various ways in which the qualification or indication can be made that the statement is not really a governmental announcement. The question is hypothetical and I think it would be better, if there were any doubt about any particular pronouncement, that if a question were asked it be specific.

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