Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 15 December 1993
Page: 4746

(Question No. 155)

Senator Ian Macdonald asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice, on 18 May 1993:

  (1) Did the Treasurer contact Austrade in 1986 to request assistance with a delivery of Australian wine to the current United States (US) Secretary of Treasury (Mr Bentsen).

  (2) Was the Treasurer's action in response to any request from Mr Bentsen; if so, what was the nature of that request.

  (3) Did the Treasurer make any particular request as to what label, type, vintage and quantity of wine should be delivered to Mr Bentsen.

  (4) Was any direction given regarding who should pay for the purchase and delivery of the wine to Mr Bentsen.

  (5) Was the wine delivered to Mr Bentsen for his personal use, or was it intended that the wine be used for matters related to Mr Bentsen's official duties as Secretary of the Treasury.

  (6) What was the cost of the wine sent to Mr Bentsen, and who paid for its purchase.

  (7) Where was the wine delivered, at what cost and who paid for its delivery.

  (8) Did Mr Bentsen or the US Government contribute to the cost of purchasing the wine; if so, to what extent.

Senator McMullan —The Treasurer has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1)-(8) As the then Minister for Trade, I met with the then Senator Bentsen in 1986 on official business. During the course of that meeting, Senator Bentsen commented most favourably on the quality of an Australian wine that he had tasted on flight from Australia to the USA some time previously. He indicated an interest in obtaining a quantity of that wine for a fundraising function he was planning.

  In an entirely appropriate response, I offered my assistance in the matter. Accordingly, I arranged for Austrade to contact Senator Bentsen and I asked that Austrade do all that it could to assist Senator Bentsen in obtaining the appropriate quantity of the wine.

  It is my understanding that Austrade subsequently arranged for the wine to be supplied to Senator Bentsen under normal commercial terms.

  My intervention with Austrade on behalf of Senator Bentsen and Austrade's efficient follow up to the request for assistance was obviously highly beneficial, both in terms of the commercial interests of the Australian wine industry and of Australia's diplomatic interests.