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Wednesday, 2 February 1994
Page: 206

Senator ALSTON (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (3.06 p.m.) —by leave—I move:

  That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for Administrative Services (Senator McMullan), to questions without notice asked by Senators Alston and Hill this day, relating to the administration of staffing arrangements in the office of the Minister for Industry, Technology and Regional Development.

I note that Senator McMullan has chosen not to be present at this stage of the proceedings.

Senator Ian Macdonald —Would you stick around if you had to answer those sorts of things?

Senator ALSTON —I must say I can understand why he would be very quick to leave the chamber, given the appallingly incompetent performance we have witnessed. In the first instance, we had Senator McMullan providing specific information and admitting that not only had Mr Lennox signed the contract, but that there was no written delegation of authority from Mr Griffiths. In other words, he was prepared to volunteer information without saying, somehow, that this should not be allowed to prejudice the police inquiries, or that in some other way it was not appropriate to disclose those facts. But then he refused to provide other factual information when requests were made; particularly when he was asked whether in fact Ms Harrison had signed a form.

  If Senator McMullan had been seriously interested in not wanting to prejudice the outcome of any police inquiries, I would have thought that what he has done today puts everyone in a most invidious position. In other words, he has refused to rule out the possibility that Mr Lennox signed the employment contract on behalf of both the employer and the employee. That is leaving Mr Lennox out to dry. There is absolutely no justification or explanation for revealing some salient features but not others. In the circumstances I would hope that the minister will reconsider the untenable position that he has adopted and will decide that, having gone part of the way he ought, in justice to all parties concerned, ensure that all the information is on the table. For our part, we are not seeking to prejudge these matters. The minister by his actions has certainly allowed that to happen. The only way that the minister can clarify the position is to provide the answers to the questions that were properly put to him today.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.