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Wednesday, 1 April 1987
Page: 1922

Mr WHITE(7.43) —On 23 March I received a letter from the Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism (Mr John Brown). It said:

Dear Mr White,

I am writing to you following an undertaken given in the House during debate.

In reply to questions 1-5, obviously some form of communication had to take place regarding my wife's airline ticket. Although under the Guidelines my wife and children are entitled to first class travel around Australia when accompanying me, I decided that in order to save the Commonwealth the price of 3 first class tickets I would use 3 economy tickets. As a matter of fact I paid out of my own pocket the balance over and above the cost of 1 first class ticket.

In replying to your final question I would like to point out that I am probably the most scrutinised, checked, prodded and examined Minister as far as travel expenses are concerned. As you are aware, my travel arrangements, and therefore the information you seek, has previously been made available under FOI, and in response to Questions on Notice by the Special Minister of State. Therefore this information is readily available from Hansard.

Yours sincerely,


That letter was written in answer to a letter that I wrote to the Minister on 24 February at his request. My letter states:

You will recall during debate in the House on Monday night you offered to answer some questions which I wanted to put to you.

It may be that you have publicly answered some or all of these question but, if you have, I have not seen the answers. For example, you have said that you have never ``oppressed' an airline employee but the question I asked is somewhat different.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Leo McLeay) -Order! I am not trying to stop the honourable member from proceeding--

Mr Spender —Of course not.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —The honourable member for North Sydney will cease interjecting. The honourable member for McPherson is aware of Madam Speaker's ruling that honourable members should not get involved in the private lives of other honourable members. I am sure that he is also aware of the fact that to criticise another honourable member one must do so by substantive motion. Having brought his attention to that, I will continue to hear him.

Mr WHITE —I have studied standing orders 75 and 76. I have taken advice. I am merely reading into Hansard a letter I wrote to the Minister, and his reply.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I point out to the honourable member that he cannot use a quotation to attack another member. I am just bringing that to his attention. I will hear him.

Mr WHITE —My letter continues:

In relation to the change of status of Mrs Brown's air ticket from Sydney to Adelaide in October, 1986, I ask:

1. Did the Minister or anyone else speak to an airline employee relating to this particular ticket?

2. Did the Minister or anyone else speak to an airline supervisor relating to this particular ticket?

3. If the Minister or anyone else did speak to an airline employee or a supervisor, was a change of ticket status asked for?

4. Was Mrs Brown's ticket changed in status?

5. If so, was part of the cost of Mrs Brown's ticket used to purchase or part purchase a ticket for your son?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! If the honourable member wishes to go to the actions of a Minister and wishes to draw a suggestion in that regard I suggest that that needs to be done by substantive motion.

Mr WHITE —I understand what you are saying, Mr Deputy Speaker, but I am making no allegations or drawing any suggestions. I am reading a letter which I wrote to the Minister at his request. He asked me in this House to write him a letter and I am reading the letter. My letter continues:

Finally, I ask:

Has there been any other occasion when an air ticket on a domestic or international flight issued to a member of the Minister's family, been changed in status?

If so, what were these occasions?

Your reply to these questions would be appreciated.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I understand the rules to which you allude. I make no allegations. I have read a letter, which was written at the Minister's request and I have read his answer. The answer that he wrote to me does not answer the questions I put to him at his request. I simply say to the Minister that these questions will continue to be asked until he answers them.