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Thursday, 15 November 1973
Page: 3392

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin (BANKS, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Order! I draw the attention of the Leader of the Country Party to standing order 76 which says:

All imputations of improper motives and all per sonal reflections on members shall be considered highly disorderly.

The impression I have gained from what the right honourable gentleman has said so far is that he is reflecting on the motives of a mem ber of this House who happens to be a Minister. I suggest that he use caution in his manner of speaking on the subject because, under the standing order which I quoted, that is considered highly disorderly.

Mr ANTHONY - I am not reflecting on the character of the Minister but I am speaking about an extremely important departmental matter which involves the taxpayers of this country. As Leader of the Australian Country Party, I wrote to the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) earlier this week and asked that I be given a fair stamp allowance. My entitlement was $150 a year. It was doubled to $300. As Leader of a party, one can spend $300 in a very short time. But here is a case where a Minister of the Crown, if he posted those letters, would have spent at least $2,000 on this one operation alone. The Australian people are becoming sick and tired of a Government which is building up personnel around it for political purposes. Mr Young has been appointed as political liaison officer, virtually as an organiser for the Labor Party, and he is being paid by the taxpayers.

Mr Reynolds - What about Bill Arthur, my temporary silencer?

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order!As honourable members know, interjections are out of order.

Mr ANTHONY - The Prime Minister already has a gigantic staff of 22 working for him - far in excess of that of any former Prime Minister. That alone will cost the taxpayer $200,000 a year. When overtime is taken into account, it will probably cost another $100,000. Be that as it may, when the Government buys into the area of political campaigning using the public's money there is every reason for this House and for the Government to question that action.

Mr Morrison - I take a point of order. The Leader of the Australian Country Party is making imputations now.

Mr ANTHONY - I am making imputations against the Government.

Mr Morrison - He is making imputations which have not been substantiated and have not even been checked.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order!In ruling on the point of order I suggest to the Leader of the Country Party that he should not make any imputations of improper motives against any members of this

House. He may make them against the Government if he wishes to.

Mr ANTHONY - I would be out of order if I were to make any personal reflection on a Minister, but certainly I have the right to make imputations against mismanagement or bad administration by a Minister's department. I have before me substantial evidence in the form of a letter which was roneoed and sent out by the Minister for Health to electors in the electorate of Monaro on official letterhead with the Commonwealth crest on the top of it. I want to know who is paying for this and what right has a Federal Minister to spend Commonwealth money on campaigning - more especially in a State campaign such as this. This is the greatest abuse that I have seen so far although we have seen Minister's sons being appointed to their staffs and defeated members of this House being appointed right and left to ministerial staffs. More and more, abuses are being carried out to support and back up the activities of the Labor Party with taxpayers' money. I just want to know how far the Australian people will accept this sort of thing - the sending out of a circular letter on the eve of an election campaign. Goodness knows how many thousands have been sent out. The letter is just headed 'Dear Elector'. There are about 17,000 or 20,000 people in the electorate. One can imagine how much that would cost. There is no limit to the excesses of this Government in using the taxpayers' money to prime up its own political machine.

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