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Tuesday, 29 October 1996
Page: 4646

Senator FERGUSON(3.11 p.m.) —This really shows just how low the stocks have dropped in the Labor Party. When there is no other issue to raise, when things are going so badly, in comes Senator Ray to ask the first question. He disappears for the rest of question time to try and find a bit more information and then comes back in to take note of an answer. Their stocks have dropped that low. Senator Ray, you constantly will need to be reminded of your own statement in estimates. You said:

Minister, it doesn't matter whether Mr Morris had anything to do with it in the end. What matters is that a ministerial committee has chosen the firm.

Then you say that because the Adelaide firm has a turnover of only $5.8 million they should not qualify in front of the other firms. Don't you like small business? It gives you an idea of just how far your stocks have gone in the Labor Party. It is typical of your tactics when you have gone so low in every other area that you try and trawl through with Senator Bolkus, who has had a lot of practice at this sort of thing, to find an issue out of nothing at all. It is simply a vendetta against Mr Grahame Morris, a very successful person within the Prime Minister's office and within Liberal Party.

You talked earlier about it being Mr Jull's responsibility. How come not one Labor shadow minister in the other place has bothered to even ask Mr Jull one question? Not one question.

Senator Robert Ray —You got asked eight questions today.

Senator FERGUSON —Mr Jull? Well, not one up until today. It is typical of the tactics of the Labor Party when their stocks have slumped so low. This party in 1993 managed to achieve 58 per cent of the vote in a very safe Labor electorate, and now the people have made their judgment in March 1996. They made their judgment and they turned away from this party in droves. Then again only a week ago in the Lindsay by-election, another five or six per cent of them decided they had had enough of this party. The only party that has done any worse, I guess, is the Democrats. You could say that their vote in Lindsay is hardly better than a good breathalyser reading.

Once again, Senator Ray has come back in here. He has tried day after day. He tried in estimates and received the answers that the Assistant Treasurer (Senator Kemp) gave in estimates. He has come in here again today to try and drag some other issue up which would take the focus off the things that have happened in the Labor Party over the last week where they have become totally irrelevant because they have not represented the people that they have purported to represent for all the time they have been here in this place.

Senator Bob Collins —Why are you defending corruption, Senator?

Senator FERGUSON —There is no corruption. If you read the contents of Hansard and if you follow the questioning—

Senator Bob Collins —You know those blokes, don't you?

Senator FERGUSON —Yes, I do know them.

Senator Bob Collins —You worked with them, didn't you?

Senator FERGUSON —I know who the people are involved. I readily admit that. Is that a crime to know the people who are involved? No, it's not. What about when you had John Singleton working for you? Was that a crime that you knew him?

Opposition senators interjecting

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order on my left! Senator Ferguson has the call.

Senator FERGUSON —What we have here today is just another sleazy attempt to drag something into an issue that was never an issue in the first place. The fact is that the questions that have been raised by Senator Ray have been answered by the minister. It does not matter how long or how many attempts he makes to try to make something else of this subject, he is going to continue to get the answers that he has been getting in the past.