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Monday, 10 September 1984
Page: 925

Mr KEATING (Treasurer) —Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek leave to make a personal explanation. I have been misrepresented by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Peacock).

Leave granted.

Mr KEATING —I was not in the House this afternoon, but I have just received the greens of what the Leader of the Opposition said in a debate where he referred to a letter written by the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) to Mr Costigan on 16 December 1983. I would just like to put on the record that it is a matter that I am not aware of. I know of no such letter. It may well exist, but I do not know of it or of its contents. The Leader of the Opposition made the mealy-mouthed allegation under privilege, like the reckless coward that he is-I have called him a coward in this place before-that I took the view in Cabinet--

Mr Sinclair —I raise a point of order. I suggest that that be withdrawn, Mr Deputy Speaker. It is an unparliamentary expression which I take exception to.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Mountford) —Order! I ask the Treasurer to withdraw that statement.

Mr KEATING —I withdraw in deference to you only, Mr Deputy Speaker. It was alleged that I took the view in Cabinet that Mr Costigan's investigation into certain matters in New South Wales should be stopped as soon as possible and that Costigan would bring down the Wran Government. This allegation is completely untrue. I have not, at any stage, in or out of Cabinet, made the remarks attributed to me by the Leader of the Opposition. I can only say that I endorse the Government's decision that the National Crime Authority take over the functions which are now being exercised by Mr Costigan. Apparently the Leader of the Opposition thinks this passes for policy and discussion in this country. I just remind the House, Mr Deputy Speaker, that--

Mr Sinclair —Mr Deputy Speaker, this is clearly outside the normal matter that is presented in a personal explanation.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —There is no point of order.

Mr Sinclair —There is a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. There are very tight rules in this place.

Mr Young —Mr Deputy Speaker, on the point of order: A whole range of personal explanations have been made by members of the Opposition to which this Government has taken very little objection, allowing them to give full expression to where they think they have been misrepresented. None has been more serious than the charge that has been laid against the Treasurer today by the Leader of the Opposition. He should be allowed to give a full explanation of the charge that was made against him.

Mr Peacock —He is not telling the truth and you know it.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The Treasurer is giving a personal explanation. There is no point of order.

Mr KEATING —The Leader of the Opposition came in here today and threw that allegation around because he knew the Government was announcing changes to foreign bank entry into Australia to try to--

Mr Spender —Mr Deputy Speaker, on a point of order: The Treasurer is allowed to correct what he says is a misrepresentation. Now he is getting into a debate. It is as simple as that.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I ask the Treasurer in the resumption of his personal explanation--

Mr KEATING —Mr Deputy Speaker, I make the point that this is totally untrue. It is a total fabrication, as the Leader of the Opposition knows.