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Friday, 11 October 1985
Page: 1090

Senator TATE —I ask the Minister for Community Services: Is it a fact that he intends to sell the Melville Rehabilitation Centre in Perth to Mr Alan Bond for a luxury hotel? If not, is the Minister aware that a Mr Les Butler, the Federal Secretary of the Hospital Employees Federation, has claimed at public meetings, including, I believe, one in Launceston, that the Minister is doing a deal to this effect? If not, is there any basis for such mischievous and what may even be defamatory suggestions?

Senator GRIMES —First, not only am I not in the process of selling the Melville Rehabilitation Centre to Mr Alan Bond, but also I have neither the capacity nor the desire to do so. Nor, incidentally, does any other government agency intend to do so. Secondly, I am aware that Mr Butler made these statements at a meeting of hospital administrators in Launceston a couple of weeks ago and at other public meetings in Victoria. It is unfortunate that this official of the union of which I am proud to be a member should be making statements of this type which I believe are not only serious and damaging to me but also probably could be construed by many people as being defamatory. I have no knowledge of why Mr Butler is making statements of this type. He certainly has no evidence to back such statements.

Senator Walsh —He sounds like a bit of a ratbag.

Senator GRIMES —As Senator Walsh says, he sounds as though he is a bit strange at the moment. He may be indulging in tactics such as attacking me because of other concerns he has with the affairs of the union. However, I have no alternative but to deny publicly in this place such statements, assure members of the Hospital Employees Federation and anyone else that I am not indulging in such activities with Mr Bond or anybody else, and ask Mr Butler to explain his strange behaviour to the public generally and in particular, to the union members for which he bears some responsibility.