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Thursday, 7 November 1985
Page: 1733


Senator SHEIL —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Treasurer. Does the Minister stand by his comments on Tuesday about over-indulgences in alcohol at business lunches? Has he seen the comments of Mr David Abba of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce describing his comments as `unfair, innaccurate and uncalled for?' Is he aware that in the same report in today's Daily Telegraph a spokesman for one of his ministerial colleagues is quoted as saying that the Minister `went right over the top' in his comments? Has he established which of his colleagues is so concerned? Will he now apologise to the vast majority of businessmen who do not conduct their lunches in the manner referred to by the Minister?


Senator WALSH —Let me deal with the last part of the question first. I have seen that report in the Daily Telegraph. With regard to the anonymous alleged spokesman for one of my Cabinet colleagues, given the record for accuracy and journalistic ethics of the Murdoch Press in general and the Daily Telegraph in particular, I suspect that that is pure fabrication. If it is not, I invite the couple of journalists who have their byline on the story to name the alleged person. With regard to my comments the other day, yes, I do stand by them. They were reported not entirely accurately; at least the context was not accurate. I drew attention to the advertisement inserted by Business against Non-Deductibility, the acronym for which is BAND, which said, among other things, that there would be catastrophic losses of employment in the restaurant industry and that, of course, would not stop there, that there would also be catastrophic losses of employment in the laundry industry, the wineries and the breweries. So it was BAND which drew attention to the alleged alcoholic nature of the business lunch, not me. If Mr Abba and the Chamber of Commerce are unhappy about the connection which has been drawn between the business lunch and a high consumption of alcohol, I suggest that Mr Abba repudiate those advertisements which have been inserted by that pressure group.