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Thursday, 24 May 1973
Page: 2581

Mr KEATING (Blaxland) - Mr Speaker,I wish to make a personal explanation.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr KEATING - Yes, by both the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) and the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon). The details as I outlined them yesterday were correct. The salaries Bills were introduced by the then Prime Minister in December and after the failure to pass the Bills I placed on notice a question relating to the payments, other than salary, made to each Minister in the year 1970-71. That question lay on the notice paper for a period of 4 months. It was placed on the notice paper on 9 December.

On 19 April 1972 1 was approached by an intermediary who said that he had a message from the. 2 honourable gentlemen I have mentioned requesting that I take the question off the notice paper and indicating that if I did not do so the increase in the Canberra allowance from $15 to $22 would not be forthcoming to my colleagues. I told him that that was not the way I normally operated and to tell the 2 honourable gentlemen to take a jump at themselves. The next day he came back again with the same request, only this time it was in more serious terms. He said: 'If you do not take it off none of them will get the increase, and I do not think you ought to hold it back for every member of the House'. So I went to the Senior Parliamentary Officer at about 11 o'clock in the evening and asked him to take the question off.

I have here page 13302 of the notice paper of 20 April 1972. It shows question No. 4941, asked by the honourable member for

Grayndler (Mr Daly), followed by my question No. 4944. On the next day of sitting, 26 April 1972, notice paper No. 167 showed question No. 4941, asked by the honourable member for Grayndler. My question had gone from the notice paper. Mr Speaker, yesterday I also mentioned that you had asked questions on a similar subject and that you had been given the same treatment. In notice paper No, 166 of 20 April 1972, following question No. 5119, asked by the present Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam), there were 3 questions asked by you relating to a similar topic. On the next day of sitting, 26 April, question No. 5119 which was asked by Mr Whitlam remained on the notice paper but yours had disappeared. But yours, Mr Speaker, had not disappeared because they were answered; they were taken off in a similar way to mine. The next day of sitting was 26 April. That same day the then Prime Minister made a statement dated 26 April containing details of the allowances. So I will leave it to the Parliament to make its own assessment

Mr Whitlam - That was the only rapid decision they ever made.

Mr KEATING - Quite so. The point is chat the 2 gentlemen may not remember the circumstances but they are very humble and contrite gentlemen these days. I ask the Mouse to cast its mind back to 1971, when the now Labour Opposition burst into

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable gentleman is starting to debate the question. I think he has made his case.

Mr KEATING - No, Mr Speaker, I am trying to outline the circumstances concerning this matter.

Mr SPEAKER -The honourable member is not allowed to debate the matter.

Mr KEATING - Mr Speaker,let me say this: I removed my question from the notice paper because I was approached twice by an Intermediary. If the 2 right honourable gentlemen opposite want to know who it was, I will not break a confidence but will write the name on a piece of paper and give it to them, and they can sort it out themselves. Obviously, Mr Speaker, you also removed your question. It was not answered. It was a question on a similar subject to mine and we had had a conversation about it. We both know why it was taken off the notice paper; the increase was subsequently paid. I know that the 2 honourable gentlemen concerned want to try to wriggle out of the allegation but they cannot; it is as simple as that.

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