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Thursday, 22 May 1980
Page: 3057

Mr HAYDEN - I refer the Minister for Post and Telecommunications to his answer to my question of 15 May relating to the acquisition by the News group of companies of shares in Ansett Transport Industries Ltd and the Minister's reply delivered yesterday in which he indicated that there is no record of his receiving a letter from Sir Reginald Ansett on or about 15 December 1979. How does the Minister reconcile his statement with the expressed views of the Chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Tribunal, stated on page 37 of the transcript of the Tribunal's inquiry dated 1 April 1980, that the letter was written to the Minister for Post and Telecommunications and that he, the Chairman of the Tribunal, was aware of it? Will the Minister make inquiries which will place him in the position either to affirm or to deny that in fact the letter from Sir Reginald Ansett was delivered to his office and by hand?

Mr Armitage - He has been sprung. He will have to resign.

Mr SPEAKER -The honourable member for Chifley will cease interjecting.

Mr STALEY (CHISHOLM, VICTORIA) (Minister for Post and Telecommunications) - I think I answered yesterday most of the questions which had been asked of me over the last few days. In those answers I made it quite clear that there was no record of any letter to me. There was a letter to the Attorney-General which, of course, was brought to my attention, both orally by officials of his Department or officers -

Mr Barry Jones (LALOR, VICTORIA) - Orally or verbally?

Mr STALEY - Orally, and also in due course officially by him in a letter to me. It may be that the Chairman of the Tribunal was referring to that letter. My Department communicated -

Mr Hayden - Delivered by hand, according to Ansett.

Mr STALEY -Yes. My Department communicated to the Tribunal the matters which had been raised by the Ansett organisation in a proper way.

Mr Hayden - Ansett had delivered it to your office by hand.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Minister will resume his seat. The Leader of the Opposition asked a question in silence. I do not propose to call the Minister to answer until the House is willing to hear him in silence. I have asked the honourable member for Chifley to cease interjecting. I also ask the Leader of the Opposition to cease interjecting.

Mr STALEY - It really would make no difference whether there had been a letter to me as well as one to the Attorney-General, because obviously they would have been about the same sort of thing. The same sort of matter was addressed to the Tribunal by another member of the Ansett organisation. There was no question but that the Tribunal was aware of the fact that the Ansett organisation at that stage- when it was under takeover threat by the Murdoch organisation- put forward a view, and that view was considered by the Tribunal. Of course, I made known that result in my answer yesterday to the honourable member.

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