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Friday, 5 October 1984
Page: 1768

Mr PEACOCK —I will follow up that answer with a question to the Prime Minister. It relates to the matter just mentioned by the Prime Minister. Yesterday he felt that the question impugned his integrity, and this does not. The answer raises a very important question of conventions in this country. In the matter referred to by the Prime Minister, I assume that the Prime Minister simply had a document produced by public servants. His reference to elements such as getting the details of a conspiracy by previous Ministers raises a question as to whether documents that relate to the previous Administration or any other previous administrations are not available to an incoming government. That is something that we scrupulously adhered to when in government ourselves. I would like to know--

Honourable members interjecting-

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The House will come to order. The Leader of the Opposition has provided a reasonable preamble, but I would like him to get to the crux of the question.

Mr PEACOCK —I was not implying that that had been done. I was pointing out the contrast because, in fairness, the Prime Minister had said 'a document'--

Mr SPEAKER —Order! Of course, the Leader of the Opposition was entitled to that preamble, but he should get to the question.

Mr PEACOCK —I want an assurance from the Prime Minister that material relating to matters pertaining to the previous Administration are not called for by him frequently or at all.

Mr HAWKE —I think the members of this House, at the end of proceedings last Tuesday, had come to the conclusion that it was literally impossible for the Leader of the Opposition in this House to do any worse than he had done on that day. But we find that here today our expectations in that regard have again been shattered. Added to the incompetence then displayed is apparently a total incapacity to understand the simplest of propositions. He seeks, in the simplest of matters, to raise questions of impropriety where no impropriety on any reasonable basis can be seen to exist.

Mr Groom —You just made an allegation yourself.

Mr HAWKE —The honourable member's shouting will do him no good because the facts simply are that anyone who listened to what I have just said in this House will understand quite clearly what I said. There was no suggestion or implication that I or anyone else involved in this matter had sought to go into the documents of the previous Government. I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that afterwards he get the Hansard greens and calmly read what I said. He will see that there is not a vestige of a basis upon which he could have started to go down this track again. There is no suggestion in this instance that that was done. This Government at all times has adhered to the proprieties of government. We have done it at all points to the present and we will do it in the considerable number of years into the future that we remain in government. I suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that he will do himself and the people behind him a very great service if at last he can get himself out of this gutter mentality and understand that this Government, as distinct from himself and those behind him, acts at all times with propriety.