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Monday, 13 September 1971
Page: 1157

Sir CHARLES ADERMANN (FISHER, QUEENSLAND) - Having regard to the existing policy of the Government, now operated by the Department of the Interior, which provides executive type homes for rental and optional subsequent purchase by senior public servants and Ministers, and about which some concern has been expressed, does the Prime Minister feel that any need exists for a review of this policy or for a variation of approach to these matters?

Mr McMAHON - I preface my remarks by saying that I have carefully gone through the file relating to the purchase of homes in Canberra by Ministers. I have been assured that each of the purchases has been completely consistent with Government policy. It is done with the full knowledge of most people involved. Nothing whatsoever in any way has been held back or disguised.

Mr Armitage - That is not the point.

Mr McMAHON - Wait a moment. You will get an answer. Be a little more patient, please. I repeat that it is completely consistent with Government policy. I have said that I think that there are several Ministers who should reside in Canberra to the maximum extent practicable. I do not want in any circumstances to place restrictions on their activities. This applies particularly in the case of my colleague, the Minister for the Interior. I deplore any unfortunate comments that have been made by people about what has been the practice and what has been considered, at least until the present time, as an acceptable one.

My colleague, the Minister for the Interior, has discussed this matter with me on at least 3 occasions over the course of the last 14 days. I have agreed with him that it would be wise for my Department to prepare a submission for me so that that policy may be considered once again. However, I want to remind the House that in my own personal knowledge the present policy has been discussed in Cabinet on other occasions and certainly as far back as the last 10 .to 12 years. I can also state that my colleague, after discussion with me, has informed me that he has made other arrangements. Consequently, I believe, the suggestion that be was purchasing a property in Canberra can be regarded as a dead letter. Still I will have a submission brought on as soon as I can and I will make certain that the policy once again becomes obvious to all those people who want to create mischief where it is unnecessary.

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