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Tuesday, 9 March 1971
Page: 697

Mr WHITLAM - 1 ask the Prime Minister a question. The right honourable gentleman will remember that on 19th February I asked him about the appointment of a director of the proposed national gallery and I recalled that he had told my colleague the honourable member for Melbourne Ports in May last that it was hoped that an appointment would be made shortly. In reply the Prime Minister said that there had been consultation and discussion between the interim council for the Australian National Gallery and a distinguished overseas art director who has since been identified as Mr James Sweeney. I ask the Prime Minister: Has he or has anyone on his behalf ever asked Mr Sweeney whether he would accept this position? lt such a proposal has been made when was it made, what was his reply and when did the reply come?

Mr GORTON - I am quite unable to remember the dates and months concerned but the answer to the basic requirements of the question is this: I believed that an offer had been made. There is indication that if an offer had not been made, discussions had taken place and I believed that an offer had been made, which was being considered but later was not accepted. I have noticed that Mr Sweeney has stated that he had not received an offer and he has now received one.

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