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Tuesday, 16 November 1993
Page: 2862

Senator KEMP —My question is addressed to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate in his capacity as Minister representing the Prime Minister. My question follows Senator Kernot's question. How can the Prime Minister possibly justify spending up to $100,000 on 15 Gould lithographs simply to satisfy his taste for Australian colonial art, when there are some 3,000 contemporary Australian art works in the Parliament House collection which he could have chosen? Does the Prime Minister believe that $100,000 worth of art work in the cabinet room will provide the necessary inspiration to deal with the massive unemployment crisis facing this country? Would not the $100,000 spent on the art works have been better spent in helping to provide emergency relief for the unemployed in Mr Keating's electorate of Blaxland?

Senator ROBERT RAY —Mr Deputy President, it seems to me that if we take Senator Kemp's assertions in his question to the logical conclusion, we would go around this building and collect every bit of art work, sell it and put it to other purposes. That is essentially what the thrust of it is.

  I do not recall—and I do not often follow Senator Kemp's speeches—Senator Kemp saying in this chamber previously that we have spent too much money on art works around Parliament House. He may have said so. I know that he always takes a great interest in these matters because he is only ever interested in incestuous matters to do with the chamber or the parliament. That is his great interest, not the broad issues but always the minuscule, incestuous issues to do with the running of this parliament or this chamber.

  As I indicated earlier in answer to Senator Kernot's question, this is not a question about the amount of expenditure that goes on art works in Parliament House but a question about where, in fact, the expenditure goes in terms of choice, be it Gould prints, modern art, sculpture or whatever else is put in this building.

  If, in fact, Senator Kemp says there should be no further purchases ever again for this building, let him say so. Let him bind a future government of his party to never purchasing another work of art for this building. That would not surprise anyone. After all, we still have not seen the opposition's arts policy coming out of the last election. Who can forget Senator Michael Baume struggling on Lateline saying, `We have an arts policy, but I haven't been authorised to release it yet'?

Senator Alston —This bloke's a spiv and you know it.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Alston, to describe the Prime Minister as a spiv is unparliamentary. I ask that you withdraw it.

Senator Alston —Mr Deputy President, I am interested that you divined immediately that I happened to be referring to the Prime Minister, because I did not mention his name. If it is that obvious to you, I certainly withdraw it.

Senator KEMP —Mr Deputy President, I ask a supplementary question. I know that Senator Robert Ray is not a member of Mr Keating's imperial faction in New South Wales, but, as more of a traditional Labor man, a man who has a better sense of Labor's history and traditions, could he just address himself to the question I put to him and leave all the personal abuse aside. Would it not be better for the $100,000 that Mr Keating insisted—

Senator Faulkner —You slimy hypocrite.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Faulkner, that was a most unparliamentary expression. I would be grateful if you would withdraw it.

Senator Faulkner —I withdraw the fact that I called Senator Kemp a slimy hypocrite.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! I do not know, Senator Faulkner, that you add to the decorum of this chamber by repeating that which I asked you to withdraw in the first place.

Senator KEMP —It is extraordinary that when one speaks to the modern Labor Party about old Labor traditions one gets that type of abuse, and I predicted that. I ask Senator Robert Ray to address this question specifically. Would not the $100,000 that has been spent on the Gould art works on the instructions of Mr Keating have been better spent on emergency relief for the unemployed in Mr Keating's electorate of Blaxland?

Senator ROBERT RAY —I make the point that Parliament House continues to purchase art works. If Senator Kemp wants to challenge that, he may. What we have had here today is a continuation of the Chaney line when those over there with very fond memories talk about what they regard as a traditional Labor member of parliament, which I am not; I am quite different from what went in the past, as are most of my colleagues. The traditional Labor member of parliament those opposite used to love was a person who could not read opinion polls, who did not know how to raise money and who could not match them in this chamber or outside. I can tell Senator Kemp that times change and some piece of left-over rubbish from a think-tank is all those opposite have on their side.

Senator Kemp —Mr Deputy President, I raise a point of order. I am having trouble directing Senator Ray to the question. I ask him to avoid the personal abuse that those opposite like so much. I asked whether the $100,000 would not have been better spent on emergency relief for the unemployed. Could Senator Ray address himself to that particular question.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! There is no point of order. I have ruled on that.