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Friday, 6 December 1985
Page: 3170


Senator KILGARIFF —I direct a question to the Minister representing the Treasurer. As the Minister would be aware, 1986 has been declared International Year of Peace and the Federal Government is making funds available to community peace groups. Given that the Federal Government supports the maintenance and development of the joint defence facilities at Pine Gap and Nurrungar, will any attempt be made to ensure that funds will not be provided to organisations which have a record of interfering with and damaging the property of those facilities? What efforts will be made to ensure that funding will go to groups which are genuinely representative of the range of community opinion on peace issues and that it does not go merely to the left wing activists who, for instance, while condemning French nuclear tests in the Pacific and the testing of the MX missile by the United States of America, have remained silent on nuclear weapon testing in the Pacific conducted by the Soviets late last year?


Senator WALSH —Strictly speaking, I do not think that grants-in-aid are the Treasurer's responsibility; it is the responsibility of the Special Minister of State, but I will see whether the Treasurer cares to respond to that question. I just want to make one other comment lest it be read into Senator Kilgariff's question-it may be done intentionally or it may be read into it-that there is a belief that grants-in-aid go only to left wing activists. For example, I think that the Australian Conservation Foundation got $150,000 last year and it received about that much again this year. The Foundation was buying newspaper space for advertisements to advocate a vote for the Australian Democrats. So if there is any suggestion of political favouritism in the making of these grants, it is without substance.

This draws attention to another problem. I think it is highly undesirable that there is a belief that groups are going to be punished by any government, or could be seen to be punished by any government for their political activities.