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Tuesday, 25 May 1993
Page: 1159

Senator CHILDS (10.50 a.m.) —I intervene briefly to make it very clear that I differ very strongly from what Senator Bishop has said. I believe that anybody who heard the long, bitter, angry attacks that Senator Bishop made on Senator Evans at the Senate estimates committee hearing—the attack probably lasted for over an hour, during which time Senator Bishop inevitably made reference to a conspiracy and all the other things that are synonymous with her questioning—would acknowledge that the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Evans) and the department have acted very properly.

  This morning the Minister again elaborated on the assistance that the Gillespie's received from the Australian Government: the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade directed 200 telephone calls and faxes to the lawyers and 30 attempts were made to get consular access. The Minister also pointed out the specific way in which those discussions took place, giving the lie to the suggestion that Senator Bishop keeps repeating; that is, a certain chat took place over dinner. She has referred to other matters, but the Minister's denial of them and his putting the facts straight do not seem to have any effect. At the estimates committee, Senator Bishop said to the Minister:

Well, Minister, the tugging of that forelock to foreign nations is becoming rather obvious.

That sums up the attitude of Senator Bishop. I then said: Senator Bishop, you may ask for explanations, but I do not think you should lace your questions with arguments, inferences and imputations all the time.

I then asked her to get back to the point. That is continually happening with Senator Bishop on this issue, as with other issues. Although Senator Evans is unhappy with the estimates committee report, I can assure honourable senators that the record of the estimates committee hearing is an accurate reflection of the way in which the Minister answered the questions raised by Senator Bishop. Senator Evans has complained that Senator Bishop was being critical. I would have thought that he would know that everything that Senator Bishop does is based on a critical style. I thought that was an axiomatic part of Senator Bishop's presentation.

The CHAIRMAN —Are there any further matters in relation to subprogram 1? There being no further matters, we move to subprogram 1.3—relations with South Pacific, Africa and the Middle East.