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Wednesday, 23 August 1972
Page: 556

Mr GRAHAM (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the Minister for the Navy information for the House about widely publicised criticisms of him within his electorate in Sydney to the effect that he is abusing his authority in relation to staff employed by his Department so as to enlist their assistance for his constituents with their personal problems.

Dr MACKAY (EVANS, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Navy) - There has been a good deal of activity over the last 6 weeks in the national and local Press, much of it under the imprimatur of the Leader of the Opposition, alleging that I have been misusing public moneys in that I have had stationed in my Ashfield office at times when he has not been in Canberra a young man who is training as my Press officer and who, from time to time, assists constituents with their problems and is always available to do so. Let me elucidate on that. Since I have become a Minister, like other Ministers I am not in my electorate as much as I would like to be and all members of my staff from the private secretary down will, when a constituent has a problem, listen to the problem and direct it to the proper authorities for answer. This is not an unusual practice and I am at a Joss to understand why the Leader of :he Opposition should attack my credibility and the propriety of my actions in this way. May I make 2 points: Firstly, my files disclose that the Leader of the Opposition himself has used his own staff to direct constituency problems to me; for example, I have letters from his own private secretary who is a permanent public servant. This same private secretary, 1 understand, is a candidate for the next election, is being paid as a permanent public servant and is currently electioneering in the electorate of Casey. I fail to understand how this criticism can be made of me for looking after constituents.

Mr Scholes - On a point of order; the Minister has made allegations which are not true. The private secretary to the Leader of the Opposition is sitting in this House now.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! There is no substance in the point of order. I say again that it is not my position to ascertain whether something is true or false.

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