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Tuesday, 15 October 1974
Page: 1694

Senator WITHERS (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) -Will the Minister for Foreign Affairs inform the Senate whether the briefing on Australia's mineral policies given to journalists in the latter stages of the Prime Minister's overseas trip by the head of the Minister's Department, Mr Renouf, was given at the behest of the Prime Minister or the Minister himself, or on Mr Renoufs own initiative? If the latter is the case, and considering the embarrassment the briefing has caused the Australian Government, what action will be taken against Mr Renouf?

Senator WILLESEE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Foreign Affairs) - In answering a similar question this morning the Prime Minister said that he had not given Mr Renouf any instructions in relation to this matter and that it was natural on a trip such as that undertaken by the Prime Minister that Mr Renouf, as well as the Prime Minister and others, would talk to the Press about many things. I certainly did not give any briefing; I do not know anything about it. In the general briefings that were given to me while I was away I was made aware of certain reports. I was asked this question yesterday at a Press conference which I gave. I answered there that this seemed to be an incident which had blown up between the two men, that the waters had been muddied pretty badly by people pursuing this matter and I certainly did not intend to muddy them any more. I said further that some disagreement had blown up between two intelligent people. I think it is best if the matter is left there. I do not think any purpose can be served by blowing up an incident into all sorts of things. I am quite certain that this matter will be worked out between the two gentlemen concerned.

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