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Monday, 22 November 1993
Page: 3360

Senator VANSTONE (6.19 p.m.) —I do not want to speak for long, other than to endorse fully the remarks of my colleague Senator Ferguson. I simply would draw attention to some of the remarks that Senator `Did-you-send-me-a-cheque' Loosley chose to make. That is what he should be known as: Senator `Did-you-send-me-a-cheque' Loosley. In fact, that is what he used to be known as.

Senator Bolkus —Mr Acting Deputy President, I raise a point of order. Senator Vanstone is transgressing standing orders by reflecting on the reputation of another senator and her remarks should be withdrawn.

Senator VANSTONE —Mr Acting Deputy President, if I can be of assistance to you on the point of order: I think what I said is that is what he used to be known as, and he certainly used to be known as that. I do not allege that he is known as it now; I just query whether perhaps he ought to be. But if that remark is offensive, if people seem to know immediately that it has some negative interpretation and they attach it to something negative, I will withdraw. Heavens above!

  The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator McKiernan)—Senator Vanstone, I ask you to withdraw.

Senator VANSTONE —I withdraw. Senator Loosley chose to make some remarks about something I had said in an estimates committee hearing. He tried to grace himself with glory by saying that he would not name the senator who said it, but that it was a disgraceful remark. I am happy to nominate myself as being the senator who said, `A lot of money for a bit of paint and cardboard'. On this occasion, the difference is, with Senator Loosley not having his facts right—as has been the case with him on numerous other occasions—that he either knows the facts are wrong or has not bothered to find out.

  When I approached Senator Loosley to try to save some time—because I know honourable senators do not want to go on for a long time about this matter—and said, `You'd know that is untrue if you'd bothered to check the Hansard', he threw up his hands and said, `Well, look, the perception is that that's what you said about the Gould prints, so that's the perception'. He did not come in here and say, `The perception is that a senator said that a lot of money had been paid for the Gould prints and that they were a bit of paint on a bit of cardboard'. He actually said that that is what a senator said. So, for Senator Loosley's benefit and that of others, I make the point that I was on the estimates committee that was looking into the purchase of the Gould prints for the cabinet room, on the instructional preference of the Prime Minister (Mr Keating). I asked a question with respect to the framing and mounting of those.

Senator Bolkus —Oh, come on.

Senator VANSTONE —`Oh, come on', says Senator Bolkus. I have had it with those opposite being misleading, twisting things and getting away with what they like. I simply want to take a couple of minutes to point out a suitable remedy which is available to me and which I am going to use—because I have had enough. This has come from Senator Loosley and from other people here who deliberately twist statements in order to cause trouble. I do not mind the rough and tumble of debate, a good bit of abuse across the chamber about each other's policies. If some of those on the other side want to make personal remarks, that is one thing. But to deliberately mislead the chamber about what a senator has said is another. That is simply totally unacceptable.

Senator Bolkus —So what do you reckon you said?

Senator VANSTONE —What I said was that to pay over $3,000 for 17 bits of cardboard, which is the mounting that goes around the Gould prints—and, as I used to have a business that sold framing, I have a very good understanding about what a French line and wash mount is, and it is not worth $200-and-whatever it is when we divide $3,000-something by 17—was simply not worth that much money. A mount is a piece of coloured cardboard; if it has a French line and wash on it, it has a bit of paint on it. The remark I made was that it was not worth that much money.

  I realise that one of Senator Loosley's senior colleagues in the other place has sought to have the same bit of fun, saying that the coalition is a load of crass something-or-others who would regard Gould prints as a bit of paint on cardboard. Members of the government seek to make that misrepresentation and they can continue to do so. They will pay a price, and the price will be evident.

  (Quorum formed)