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Thursday, 8 March 1984
Page: 590


Senator LEWIS —by leave-On the front page of the Canberra Times today an article by Paul Malone, the political correspondent of that newspaper, under the heading: 'Opposition senators abstain on tapes', very much misrepresents my position in connection with the production to the Parliament of the so-called Age tapes which relate to corruption in New South Wales and to the difficulties or problems raised in connection with a certain judge. I will quote the first paragraph which, as I say, totally misrepresents my position under that headline . It states:

Cracks have appeared in the Opposition's strategy on the Age tapes with the revelation that two government senators--

I am sure he means two Opposition senators-

failed to vote with their colleagues on the motion to table the tapes.

That implies that in some way or other I was not supportive of my Opposition colleagues in the motion which we put before the Senate. I am sure the Senate will know that I totally supported that motion, spoke in favour of it and voted in favour of it. To suggest that I was not supportive of the Opposition's strategy in regard to the Age tapes totally misrepresents my position and I think, frankly, is libellous. Actually, if one reads further on in the article one will see that Mr Malone does tend to put my position by saying that I said that the Australian Democrats had combined with the Government to amend the Opposition's motion and to 'gut it'. I said that I was not prepared to vote with Labor and therefore had walked out. That again misrepresents my position slightly. It is not that I am not prepared to vote with Labor on any matter- which the article implies-but that I was not prepared to vote with Labor on this particular matter which had then become a charade. In my view, the Liberal- National Party Opposition should have walked out of this chamber on that occasion and observed the Australian Labor Party voting against the Democrats. In my view, that should have been our proper position. We did not have an opportunity to discuss that matter, so I took that course myself. Clearly, I have been misrepresented in this article by the suggestion in the headline and the first paragraph that I was not supportive of my colleagues in this matter. It also misrepresents me in the suggestion that I will never vote with the Labor Party in any matter in this chamber.