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Thursday, 20 March 1980
Page: 875

Senator O'BYRNE (Tasmania) -I crave the indulgence of the Senate, having been misrepresented, to make a personal explanation, under Standing Order 408. A report issued on 6 March on behalf of the Western Australian Liberal senators and members and prepared for the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party by Senator Chris Puplick of New South Wales states:

On the adjournment Labor Senator O 'Byrne launched another vicious attack on Tasmania's Independent Senator Harradine over an internal union dispute in that State. Needless to say this provoked quite a reply from the latter senator.

The fact of the matter is that on 5 March I raised the matter by saying to the Senate:

I would like to close off that little part of the Senate debate by reading from the Mercury of Saturday, 1 March 1980. Under the heading 'TTLC returns training funds to State' it reads:

The Tasmanian Trades and Labor Council has returned $44,000 in trade union training funds to the State Government.

The money is the balance of unspent grants totalling $55,000 to the trade union movement for trade union training- an issue which has for a long time caused allegations in union circles of secret funds.

Criticism of the TTLC started when . . . unionists pointed out that the grant money had not been appearing on the council's financial statements.

Since then there has been a good deal of outrage expressed, and a report on the money was made by the Auditor-General.

Because the money had not been spent on the purpose for which it was intended, the State Government asked for it to be returned.

Yesterday the Minister for Education, Mr Holgate, announced that the TTLC had returned the $44,327.

He said the cheque for the amount had been delivered to his office yesterday from the TTLC secretary, Mr Bob Watling.

The Minister said the Southern regional superintendent of further education, Mr Frank McMahon, had made recommendations to him on the Government's proposal to use the money.

He has suggested that two trade union training films should be made by the Tasmanian Film Corporation.

One of the recommended films is a major educational project dealing with the role of the trade unions in our community, and the other deals with Tasmania's unique industrial boards system, said Mr Holgate.

Mr Holgatesaid he had written to Mr Watling to advise him of the recommendations.

Senator Peter Baume - Mr President,I raise a point of order. I understand that the honourable senator is making a personal explanation, claiming to have been misrepresented. It is a fairly long explanation. Could he indicate to us how he has been misrepresented?

The PRESIDENT -Misrepresentation is the basis on which he is speaking.

Senator O'BYRNE - That is the whole basis on which I am speaking. I had to give that preface so that the Senate would be acquainted with the attack that has been made on me by what is known in some circles as the 'Puplicher Beobachter'. It is one of those publications that is not very well accepted other than by a few fanatics. I conclude by repeating what I said to the Senate:

I feel that I have been justified in raising the matter. The money has been returned to the State Government. The allegations that I was a humbug and other things are incorrect. This matter, as far as I am concerned, has been ruled off.

That was what I said to the Senate to tidy up an issue that has been running for so long. I did not, as Senator Puplick said, make 'another vicious attack' on an honourable senator. I was completely misrepresented by him. I feel that I should have an apology from him for having distributed this literature in a publication which is circulated in the community.

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