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Wednesday, 23 May 1973
Page: 2528

Mr SPEAKER -Is leave granted? there being no objection, leave is granted.

Mr KEATING - At question time today I asked a question of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) relating to a question that I had put on notice about a year ago in regard to the salaries and payments of Ministers. I want to clarify the question. The text of the Hansard report reads as follows:

Did the question sit on the notice paper for many months and was it withdrawn after I was informed by the then Prime Minister and the Treasurer . . .

I want to insert words so that the question reads: after I was informed by message from the then Prime Minister and Treasurer.

I have done this at the request of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) who says categorically that I did not speak to him, and that is true. But I placed question No. 4944 on the notice paper on 9 December 1971 after the abortive salary Bills were introduced into this House. The question sat on the notice paper during April and disappeared. It appeared on the notice paper on 20 April 1972 but did not appear on the following Tuesday's notice paper of 26 April 1972.

The question which I placed on notice asked:

What payments other than salary were paid to each Minister in 1970-71, and what did these payments represent?

The Government informed me on 2 occasions. The then Prime Minister and the then Treasurer told me that an increase in the daily allowance for members whilst in Canberra from $15 to $22 would not be paid until I withdrew the question from notice. I told the person who brought me the message that that was unacceptable to me and that I did not operate in that way. The same gentleman came back the following day and gave me the message again and said I was obliged not to hold up payments going to colleagues in the House. So in that respect I had the question withdrawn from the notice paper.

It has been said apparently by the Leader of the Opposition that he does not know of it. I am not prepared to make a statement about that. All I know is that the question was withdrawn. I asked a senior parliamentary officer to withdraw it. I think that you will find, Mr Speaker, on examination, that the daily allowance was paid within days of the withdrawal of this question - maybe a day later.

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