The living conditions of Prime Minister Paul Keating's dog, Ruben, were under examination on this day in 1994, following a Senator's questioning of whether a heater was installed for Ruben at taxpayers' expense.
Defence Minister Robert Ray and Foreign Minister Gareth Evans came to Ruben's defence, advising Senator Chapman that while Mr Keating had bought or built a dog kennel at the Lodge, it did not have central heating.
"Mr Keating's dog has to suffer the vicissitudes of the Canberra winter like all other Canberra dogs," Senator Ray said.
The information was received from officers of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, he said, and while he had "not gone over and actually looked at or slept with Ruben" himself, he made an "open offer" to Senator Chapman to do so if he wished.
Senator Chapman, upon further investigation, discovered Ruben did not in fact sleep in the kennel but in the Lodge's vestibule, which was "heated for his benefit".
"This imperial hound appears to live even better than the Queen's corgis," said Senator Chapman, upon hearing Ruben was fed meat costing $28 per kilogram, at the expense of taxpayers.
But Senator Evans, Leader of the Government in the Senate, denied this, saying the Keatings paid for Ruben's meat.
He confirmed the vestibule was heated "to warm those coming into the inside of the house from a chill Canberra winter".
As the vestibule happened to be Ruben's sleeping quarters, he was simply "an incidental beneficiary".
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