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Tuesday, 12 November 1974
Page: 2269

Senator WRIEDT (Tasmania) (Minister for Agriculture) - I presume that Senator Greenwood's last comment was referring again to Senator Willesee. I repeat what I said earlier:

This is typical of the sort of deliberate denigration we have had of the Minister for Foreign Affairs in his absence from this Parliament. I believe it is to be regretted that Senator Greenwood continues to adopt that line. I wish to speak on the matter raised by Senator Sir Magnus Cormack which was referred to again a moment ago. I have taken the trouble to refer to my Hansard pinks. I said:

Even though most of us have some reservations about the continuation of the Estimates committee, the Government wants to see that if they are to be continued they are continued in their proper role and that they are not abused as they have been and as we all know they have been. The Government's policy is to provide the maximum information and not to withhold information.

I do not know the basis on which anyone reads from that statement that I said that the future of the Estimate committees is in doubt. The point was made earlier in an explanation by a government senator that I had said that there are reservations about the operation of Estimate committees. That has nothing to do with the Estimates. The Estimates must continue in this Parliament. We all know that. There was not even the slightest suggestion about or reflection on the procedure for considering Estimates in the Committee of the Whole. I refer to the point raised by Senator Davidson when he asked me again about the World Food Conference. It would be premature for a statement to be issued at this time because the Conference will continue for another two or possibly three weeks and some important decisions will almost certainly be made in the committees after the plenary session is completed. I point out to Senator Davidson that until such time as the Conference is completed I would not be in a position to make a formal statement to the Parliament.

Proposed Expenditure- Department of Foreign Affairs, $354,365,000-passed

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Webster -Is it the wish of the Committee that all the divisions of the Department of Services and Property be dealt with together? There being no objection, it is so ordered.

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