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Friday, 16 December 1983
Page: 4016

Senator Walsh —On 17 November 1983 (Hansard, page 2759) Senator Coates asked the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Button) a question without notice about a statement by the Chairman of Qantas Airways Ltd, Mr Leslie, concerning the numbers of public servants and people from this Parliament using Qantas for their travel. Senator Button responded to the question but undertook to obtain from the relevant Minister a comment on the figures quoted by Mr Leslie for usage of Qantas by public servants and parliamentarians.

The Minister for Finance (Mr Dawkins) as the responsible Minister has provided the following response:

The Government does not maintain statistics on the use of Qantas by members of Parliament or public servants. The Government has no reason to doubt the accuracy of the statistics quoted by the Chairman of Qantas.

In elaboration of the comments made by Senator Button in his preliminary response to Senator Coates' question I wish to record the fact that Finance Directions require Qantas services to be used on all occasions where available flights meet requirements for official travel at Commonwealth expense by Commonwealth public servants travelling overseas. The Directions also require that where suitable flights are not available, preference be given to services of airlines with which Qantas has revenue pooling arrangements.


Senator Gareth Evans —On 8 November 1983 (Hansard, page 2249) Senator Bjelke- Petersen asked me the following question without notice:

My question is to the Attorney-General. I refer him to a report in the Australian newspaper last week in which it was stated that a Mr Peter Niarros, a boilermaker at Mount Newman, was receiving bomb threats and was to be dismissed following his refusal to pay $20 to a union strike fund. In view of this blatant violation of Mr Niarros's human rights, will the Attorney refer his case urgently to the Human Rights Commission for immediate investigation and action? In view of the Attorney's much flaunted belief in human rights, will he give an unequivocal assurance that the human rights legislation will extend to those unions which have shown on many occasions that they will not hesitate to use standover tactics, including bomb threats and abusive phone calls, to violate the human rights and liberties of those people in our community who will not bow to their demands?

The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

With regard to the first part of the honourable senator's question, I should mention that the complaint handling function of the Human Rights Commission relates to acts and practices engaged in by or on behalf of the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth authority, or in a Territory, or under Commonwealth or Territory law. There is, I think, a question whether the action taken against Mr Niarros referred to by the honourable senator is an act or practice of that kind. However, if it appears to Mr Niarros that the matter may be within the Commission's functions, his appropriate course would be to take up the matter with the Commission by lodging a complaint.

As to the second part of the honourable senator's question, as I indicated in my earlier answer, the content of the proposed Bill of Rights will be made public when the Bill is introduced early in the autumn session.