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Tuesday, 18 April 1972
Page: 1189

Senator POYSER (Victoria) - I rise tonight to speak on a matter that I raised by way of a question in August of last year. In fact, it was on the second day of the sitting of the Senate. I asked a question which was subsequently placed on notice. It was as follows:

(1)   Have SirRobert Menzies and Sir John

McEwen each had allocated to them a Commonwealth car for their personal use; if so, do the drivers of these cars carry out no other duties, even when they are not required by Sir Robert and Sir John and when these gentlemen are absent from the State of Victoria or Australia?

(2)   Has former Prime Minister, the Rt Hon. F. M. Forde, been provided with similar facilities?

(3)   Which former members of this Parliament receive Commonwealth facilities and privileges and what is the nature of any such facilities and amenities provided.

Senator Sir Kenneth Anderson - What is the number of the question?

Senator POYSER - It is the longest standing question unanswered. It is question No. 1250 which appears at page 5186 of the Senate 'Notice Paper' of today's date. I asked it on 17th August 1971 and it was placed on notice on 18th August 1971. The reason why I asked this question is that I was given information from a source which I believe to be impeccable that the car drivers who are allocated to Sir Robert Menzies and to Sir John McEwen have no other duties whatsoever in relation to their work. Even when Sir Robert Menzies travelled overseas for some 3 months to 5 months, no duties were required of his driver at all. His driver was not required to perform any function other than to collect his salary each second Thursday at the car pool depot.

I have no objectionto a car being provided to ex-Prime Ministers of this Parliament. But I believe that this facility can come from the car pool as required when required. 1 would have no objection at the moment, for instance, to Dame Pattie Menzies being provided with a car in whichto travel to and from hospital to see her husband. But the information I have received is that Sir John McEwen's driver, who is on the payroll of the Commonwealth, has a home on Sir John's property and is running a beef herd while he is being paid by the Commonwealth Government, even when he is not required to perform his duties. 1 sought this information in a proper manner by asking a question last August. I sought information as to whether other Prime Ministers such as the Right Honourable Frank Forde and, indeed, the Right Honourble Sir Arthur Fadden are provided with similar facilities. 1 understand that this is not the case. I would like to know how this pecking order operates and how, when a member retires from this Parliament, he is able to obtain the facility of a personal private driver and a private car at his full beck and call even when not required. Because I have not received an answer to this question I feel thai I am bound to raise it on the adjournment.

Senator Little - What about Arthur Calwell?

Senator Cavanagh - What happens when Sir Robert goes to England?

Senator POYSER - As I indicated earlier, when Sir Robert travels to England his driver has no functions to perform at all. I heard a senator on my left - he has never been there politically - ask: 'What about Arthur Calwell?'

Senator Little - That is right. What about him?

Senator POYSER - He is still a member of this House. Sir Hubert Opperman when he was a back bencher of this Parliament received a car to travel to and from Geelong whereas I was put on a slow train to Geelong.

Senator Little - He did nol go to church on Sunday in it, did he?

Senator POYSER - I do not go to church at all. Perhaps 1 should do what the honourable senator does and be a complete hypocrite to get the facilities.

Senator Little - But the honourable senator knows-

Senator POYSER - 1 do not want any yapping pups on my left. 1 am seeking information as to what facilities are available to retired members of parliament. I repeat that 1 have no objection whatever to minor perks being given even to exPrime Ministers whether or not they have earned them - and some obviously have not. But J ask why persons who have no other duties to perform remain on the payroll. In the case of Sir John McEwen's driver, I ask further how he is able to nin a beef herd whilst still being paid by the Commonwealth.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is Mr

Forde provided with a private car?

Senator POYSER - To my knowledge, he is not provided with a car or any such facility other than the normal pass received by a person who has been a member of this Parliament for a number of years. To my knowledge, Sir Arthur Fadden does not receive any of the facilities about which I am seeking information. I would not have raised this matter on the adjournment if I had been able to obtain some reply from the Government on this matter. The obvious reason why I have not been able to obtain a reply to my question is that the Government has something to hide in this matter. I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate to ascertain the answers and to investigate the allegations to determine whether what I have said represents the true position and whether these facilities are made available.

I do not object to their being provided to ex-Prime Ministers of this country. But why cannot these people call for a car from the pool as required? Nobody would have any objection to that. In fact, these 2 drivers could well toe looking after some of the members of this Senate when those drivers have nothing else to do. As indicated last week, some honourable senators are compelled to take a second grade train to a provincial city after many long hours of service in this Parliament. These drivers could assist honourable senators rather than run a beef herd or do nothing else but call in each fortnight for pay cheques. I ask that this matter be investigated and that a proper reply be given to me.

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