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Friday, 2 March 1984
Page: 334

Senator MacGIBBON —I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate whether he saw an article in the estimable journal the Queensland Sunday Mail of 12 February 1984 dealing with the Richmond by-election. The article talks about the Australian Labor Party candidate, a Mr Carmont, and states:

. . . but their dual offices in the Tweed and Lismore are working smoothly and with the aid of a Federal Government press officer, Mr Shane O'Connor, who is running the media campaign.

This is a prima facie case of public funds being used for blatant party political purposes, namely, the conduct of an election campaign. I ask: To what Minister's staff is Mr O'Connor attached? If he is part of that notorious propaganda unit operating under the Orwellan title of the National Media Liaison Unit, whose budget was increased by the Labor Party in the last Budget by well over 100 per cent to fulfil its Goebbels-type functions? Is this what Australia can expect under the new Labor public funding of elections laws-a denial of funds to its opponents so they cannot get out their message, coupled with a plundering of the public purse to put out Labor propaganda?

Senator BUTTON —I am not in the habit of reading the paper to which Senator MacGibbon referred, even on 12 February. I have not read the article in question . I do not know Mr O'Connor.