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Tuesday, 15 October 1974
Page: 1695

Senator GREENWOOD -My question is directed to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and follows Senator Withers' question about Mr Renoufs publicised briefing to journalists and the subsequent statement by the Minister for Minerals and Energy that Mr Renouf had apologised to him. Is not Mr Renoufs conduct in so misrepresenting the position of Ministers in charge of another department that he is impelled to apologise conduct which is completely reprehensible in a member of the Public Service? Is not such conduct disgraceful or improper conduct within the meaning of the Public Service Act? Why does not the Minister take action under section 56 of the Public Service Act to suspend Mr Renouf? Is the Minister's unwillingness to take such action an indication that under this Government in future public servants may speak as they like provided only that they apologise afterwards, or is this to be a privilege to be extended only to Permanent Heads?

Senator WILLESEE -I have said in 2 places already what the situation is. I do not think anything is to be gained by trying to exacerbate this situation. I am certainly not going to exacerbate it in any way. As to whether or not there was an apology promised I do not know. I think it is a matter for the 2 gentlemen concerned. There is a condemnation by Senator Greenwood without his knowing, I suggest, a lot about it that this action was reprehensible. I think the matter is better left where it is and, as I said to Senator Withers, for these 2 gentlemen to work out between themselves.

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