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Monday, 14 October 1985
Page: 1138

Senator PETER RAE —My question is addressed to the Minister for Finance. Is it a fact that the Prime Minister has recently trebled the actual number of public servants in the section of his Department dealing with the Australian Bicentennial Authority? Will extra staff be recruited to the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to handle the work previously done by the transferred officers? What will be the cost to the taxpayers of this action of the Prime Minister, which is the latest of his efforts to escape personal responsibility for his gross mishandling of the Bicentennial fiasco?

Senator WALSH —As I understand it, the Prime Minister is seeking roughly a doubling of the staff resources allocated to the ABA. I received-I am not sure whether it was last Thursday or Friday-a letter from the Prime Minister which referred not only to the proposed numbers but also the staff profile that he was proposing for the ABA. It has been transferred to the Secretary of the Department of Finance and I expect it to be dealt with probably before the end of this week.

Senator PETER RAE —I ask a supplementary question. Can the Minister answer the final part of the question: What will be the cost if the request is acceded to?

Senator WALSH —At this stage I cannot answer that.