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Wednesday, 7 December 1983
Page: 3379

Senator WALTERS(11.58) —I have no intention of holding up the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans). The Attorney said in answer to Senator Lewis's question that legal opinion was sought back in August. Why did not the Attorney tell us when the Estimates were being examined that $1.25m or some other amount was to be spent. Obviously last August he decided--

Senator Gareth Evans —You did not ask. That is why. If you had I would have.

Senator WALTERS —During consideration of the estimates of the Department of Social Security I asked on what $53m from the Advance to the Minister for Finance was going to be spent. We were told that $20m was going to be spent in our area. No mention was made at all of any money that was going to be spent on the referendum. I asked the question. Why did not the Attorney have the honesty to tell us before the Appropriation Bills were passed? He knew that he had sought legal opinion back in August and he did not have the decency or honesty to tell the Senate that money was going to be spent on the Yes case only. He knew that the Appropriation Bills would not be passed if he had told us. He says that we did not ask. So much for open government, freedom of information and whatever else the Attorney wears so often on his sleeve. He wears on his sleeve freedom of information and civil liberties. He wears on his sleeve all of these things. Yet, he did not have the decency to say during consideration of the Estimates that he was going to spend this money on the Yes case.