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Monday, 22 November 1993
Page: 3325

Senator HERRON (3.32 p.m.) —This whole debate has balanced on the word `balance'. The Prime Minister (Mr Keating) asked that the press coverage be balanced. `Balance' in the Prime Minister's vocabulary, I have no doubt, has a different interpretation. The Prime Minister is well known for his vocabulary. He has put the word `scumbag' into the Macquarie Dictionary, amongst other things, to the extent that, my teacher friends tell me, regrettably, the children at school are now aping him and performing in the same way in the school grounds. This is the same man who has been hiding his piggery—and the smell from the piggery is not just from the pigs, I might say in that regard.

Senator Gareth Evans —Mr President, on a point of order: I ask that that be withdrawn.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I think that is an imputation on the Prime Minister. I ask that it be withdrawn.

Senator HERRON —I withdraw. It was a play on words to illustrate the way in which the Prime Minister plays on words in relation to the word `balanced'. Everybody knows the imputation of the Prime Minister approaching Conrad Black and saying he wanted balanced reporting. It is the same interpretation that I am sure the whole public takes in regard to this. There is a smell about that word in this context. That is the imputation that I am sure the average working man in the street understands. So to come in and pretend that that word `balanced' in the Prime Minister's vocabulary means that it should be even-handed, I think, defies rationality.

Senator Schacht —That is stretching it a bit.

Senator HERRON —What I said about the average man in the street is correct. Honourable senators can ask anybody in the gallery what they think when the Prime Minister goes to a media baron and says, `I want balanced reporting'. Seriously, we cannot accept that. On television—and, again, it was not the words—he said, `I'm the Prime Minister'. Then, with a smirk on his face, he said, `That makes me the judge'. Anybody who watched television saw that. I wonder what is Senator Schacht's interpretation of that.

Senator Schacht —He is the elected Prime Minister of Australia.

Senator HERRON —That therefore makes him the judge of morality, does it? Let us get down to the basics with regard to this. I leave it to the people of Australia to interpret and judge the Prime Minister's words.