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Thursday, 28 September 1972
Page: 2100

Mr NICHOLLS (BONYTHON, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Did the Prime Minister receive on 12th February 1971 a letter from the then Minister for Supply, Sir Kenneth Anderson, stating in respect of the Government's purchase of aircraft from Jetair Australia Ltd that it was unfortunate that normal procedures were not followed? Can he state why normal procedures were not followed?

Mr McMAHON - If the honourable gentleman will read the statement that was made in the Senate by Senator Wright he will see the reasons set out and in particular he win be able to read the letter that was written by the permanent head of the Department of Foreign Affairs to the Auditor-General which sets out the facts perfectly. I am rather glad that this question was asked.

Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - You do not look it.

Mr McMAHON - Do not be rude and offensive; try to behave yourself. Might I say this relative to the Department of Foreign Affairs: I admit that there was an irregularity but no more. I believe that the officers of that Department acted honourably and wisely. They were able to purchase 11 aircraft at a cost of $480,000 whereas previously they thought they would be purchasing 5 aircraft for $425,000. The purchase from Jetair was a very, very satisfactory transaction from the Commonwealth's point of view. I regret that an irregularity occurred. It was no more than an irregularity. The Department of Foreign Affairs took very strong action to rebuke the officer involved. As 1 look at the files. 1 think the Department rebuked him too severely. I regard him as an honourable man who operated in the best interests of this country. While I regret that a technical irregularity occurred, I see no impropriety whatsoever, and frankly I think the officer deserves some credit.

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