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Tuesday, 6 September 1983
Page: 375


Mr PEACOCK —My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer him to the recent opinion of the Attorney-General regarding the former Special Minister of State wherein the Attorney-General indicated that the sanctions of resignation or dismissal, traditionally regarded as applicable and appropriate for all but the most extraordinary and dangerous ministerial breaches of official secrecy, should apply to the former Special Minister of State. In that light I ask the Prime Minister whether he agrees with the Premier of Victoria that if the price of requiring high standards of ministerial conduct is 'some dissension for a time in the party then I am prepared to pay that price. But I am not prepared to compromise or in any way diminish the standards that should be set in government '. Secondly, does he also agree with Mr Cain's view that a Minister who breached ministerial propriety should not return to the Ministry, despite his long contribution to the Australian Labor Party?


Mr HAWKE —In respect of the first part of the question, I agree with the statement of Mr Cain, and nothing that has happened in respect of the honourable member for Port Adelaide is in any way in contradiction of my agreement with that statement. What the Leader of the Opposition seems to have difficulty in coming to grips with is the fact that the honourable member for Port Adelaide is no longer a Minister in this Ministry.


Mr Peacock —You are keeping his seat warm.


Mr HAWKE —He has tendered his resignation and I accepted it, and the Leader of the Opposition has no evidence at all about a seat being kept warm. Like so many of the pathetic blatherings from the other side, the noise is not complemented by substantiable facts. The fact is that the honourable member tendered his resignation, and it has been accepted.

In respect of the second part of the question, as is increasingly often the case with the Leader of the Opposition, again he is tangled up with mistaken propositions. The Premier of Victoria has not said that Mr Landeryou will never return to the Ministry. There has been no such statement; nor could there be any such statement. In respect of the honourable member for Port Adelaide, I repeat what I said the week before last, that the resignation was tendered; it was accepted. The circumstances surrounding it are being considered by the Royal Commission on Australia's Security and Intelligence Agencies. At all times since the appointment of that Royal Commission, as a government we have acted, as distinct from honourable members on the other side of the House, in a way which is consistent with the integrity of the Royal Commission. We have not sought outside the Commission to canvass the issues which are being considered in the Commission and which are a matter of determination by the Royal Commissioner. We have, at all points, followed that course. That is what is happening here.

The situation involving the honourable member for Port Adelaide is before the Royal Commission. It has been considered appropriate that no action be taken in regard to an additional appointment until such time as the Royal Commissioner has recommended. Honourable members are whistling in the dark with regard to the honourable member for Port Adelaide because the facts are that he recognised in the circumstances that he should tender his resignation. He did so; it was accepted; he is not a Minister. There is not one piece of evidence available to honourable members opposite, however much they bray and carry on, that the honourable member's ministerial seat is being kept warm for him.