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- Start of Business
- STUDENT ASSISTANCE AMENDMENT BILL 1992
- NATIONAL CRIME AUTHORITY AMENDMENT BILL (No. 2) 1992
- WARNINGS FROM THE CHAIR
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Dr HEWSON, Mr KEATING)
(Mr COURTICE, Mr KEATING)
(Mr REITH, Mr DAWKINS)
(Ms CRAWFORD, Mr GRIFFITHS)
(Mr REITH, Mr DAWKINS)
(Mr O'KEEFE, Mr KEATING)
(Mr REITH, Mr DAWKINS)
(Mr FERGUSON, Mr WILLIS)
(Mr CADMAN, Mr KEATING)
(Mr LES SCOTT, Mr HOWE)
(Mr ATKINSON, Mr KEATING)
Consumer Protection: Deceptive Conduct and Pricing
(Mr HOLLIS, Ms McHUGH)
Divisions: Parliamentary Privilege
- PRESENTATION OF PAPERS
- AUSTRALIAN WINE AND BRANDY CORPORATION
- QUESTIONS TO MR SPEAKER
- PRESENTATION OF PAPERS
- MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- BILLS RETURNED FROM THE SENATE
- BOUNTY (COMPUTERS) AMENDMENT BILL 1992
- SEAFARERS REHABILITATION AND COMPENSATION BILL 1992
- SEAFARERS REHABILITATION AND COMPENSATION (TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS AND CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS) BILL 1992
- SEAFARERS REHABILITATION AND COMPENSATION LEVY BILL 1992
- SEAFARERS REHABILITATION AND COMPENSATION LEVY COLLECTION BILL 1992
- ANTARCTIC (ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION) LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 1992
- WHEAT MARKETING AMENDMENT BILL 1992
- LAW AND JUSTICE LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL (No. 4) 1992
- COMMONWEALTH SUPERANNUATION SCHEMES AMENDMENT BILL 1992
- ABORIGINAL EDUCATION (SUPPLEMENTARY ASSISTANCE) AMENDMENT BILL 1992
- STATES GRANTS (GENERAL PURPOSES) BILL 1992
- CUSTOMS TARIFF AMENDMENT BILL (No. 2) 1992
- ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS
Wednesday, 14 October 1992
Mr ALDRED (12.20 p.m.) —This legislation, the National Crime Authority Amendment Bill (No. 2), flows directly out of the report, Who is to Guard the Guards?, prepared by the parliamentary Joint Committee on the National Crime Authority and published in November 1991. The question posed in the title of the report is invariably a difficult one to confront in respect of any law enforcement body, and is timely, given the concerns raised about the performance of, and alleged corruption in, some such bodies in Australia over the last decade.
In respect of the National Crime Authority itself, there has been, of course, an ongoing debate for some time now about its effectiveness, including its prosecution and conviction record. It is to be hoped that the proposed new office of Inspector-General of the NCA will sharpen the organisation's performance and, in that sense, it is a desirable initiative. However, it must be said that many major matters of alleged official corruption remain unattended in this country, which the NCA is empowered to look at if an appropriate reference is given. I wish to raise two such matters today.
Prominent among the many scandals of Labor's 10 years maladministration in Victoria was the infamous Continental Airlines affair, in which a significant number of well-known Victorians and other figures were found to have received discounted or free tickets from the airline. The proof of evidence provided by the late Mr Bob Tanfield, former sales manager for Victoria-Tasmania with Continental Airlines in the early 1980s, in respect of his committal for trial on fraud, listed 24 senior Victoria Police officers, public servants and others, who benefited by way of free or discounted tickets for themselves and/or their family members or friends.
They included the then Assistant Commissioner, Paul Delianis, who accepted a waiver or free ticket for his wife, Thelma; the then Deputy Commissioner, Eric Mudge, who took two 75 per cent discount tickets to Auckland; the then Assistant Commissioner, Richard Knight, who got two tickets; the then Chief Inspector, Brian Harding, who took two tickets; Senior Sergeant Ron Elliott, who had two tickets; and the then Commander, Phil Bennett, who was given two tickets to Nandi.
Apart from the then Deputy Commissioner, Eric Nudge, who resigned, essentially over the Continental Airlines affair, no other police officers or public servants involved had any significant official action, that is known to me, taken against them, though, no doubt, a number were privately cautioned about their actions. This is intriguing, as the Continental Airlines affair was a serious matter and obviously regarded as such in some quarters at the time.
On 21 November 1985, the then Assistant Commissioner for Internal Investigations in the Victoria Police, Mr William J. Horman, wrote to Mr Robert Redlich, QC, as follows:
Re: Ticket inquiry
On Thursday, 21 November, 1985, a meeting took place at Parliament House, Melbourne, involving Minister for Police & Emergency Services, Hon. R. Mathews, Under-Secretary, Mr. R. King, Chief Commissioner Mr. S.I. Miller and Assistant Commissioner (I.D.D) Mr W.J. Horman and the following matters agreed upon:
(1) The police would proceed to establish a computer matchup of a small number of items of information with respect to free and discounted Continental Airline tickets with (I) the police seniority list; (II) a provided list of public servants and public office holders;
(2) Following the `computer matchup' to be carried out by the Government Computer Centre, the matchup tape would be delivered to the DIEA, Canberra;
(3) The DIEA Canberra, would be responsible for undertaking computer programming (estimated by Ms. Jennifer Williams of the Law Department to take three weeks—to be funded other than by the Victoria Police) for the purpose of producing a printout of overseas travel details matched up with the supplied tape (as per (2) above);
(4) that documentation, data tapes and lists shall at all times remain in the possession and under the control of the police;
(5) that the use of all such documentation, data, tapes and lists remains under the authority and responsibility of the police; and
(6) that the documentation, data, tapes and lists be used exclusively for the purpose of investigation of the police.
For your information.
That concludes the letter.
It was appropriate that the matter be regarded as grave. Mr Tanfield clearly knew the illicit nature of the arrangements he was putting in place, in which he was initially aided by his friend, the then Chief Superintendent, Bob Stewart, of the Police Research and Development Branch, who was himself another beneficiary of the arrangements. In stating what he had done, Tanfield's proof of evidence reads:
I was aware that it was not in accordance with the IATA rules, so I had to be fairly careful who I let on . . .
Expanding on his use of tickets really only designed for airline staff, Tanfield added:
When they came to the office I would fill out one of the forms I had designed for this type of ticket, putting them on as an employer of a particular airline and giving their work address and I.D. number.
Though the transgressions of senior Victoria Police officers in the Continental Airlines affair evinced no direct official action against those involved, they parallel other strange events of that time which are also worthy of investigation by the National Crime Authority. I refer, of course, to the odd outcome of the investigation that followed the crucial Nunawading province by-election on 17 August 1985, which was a fresh election ordered by the Court of Disputed Returns after the infamous `draw from the hat' result of 2 March that year. The ultimate result would determine who would control Victoria's Legislative Council.
Within a week of polling day Mr Martin Peake, Chairman of the Victorian Nuclear Disarmament Party, lodged an official complaint with Mr Eric Richardson, Chief Electoral Officer of Victoria, about a deceptive NDP how to vote card handed out at the booths. In essence, Mr Peake alleged that Mr Nick Nikolaidou, a solicitor, had issued and authorised a misleading how to vote card, that the card confused voters, that members of the Australian Labor Party were recognised handing out this card and that the allocation of preferences to the ALP on the card damaged the NDP.
On 29 August 1985 the Chief Electoral Officer referred the NDP complaint to the Victoria Police for investigation and report. An investigation was then commenced by CIB members from Nunawading, with Detective Senior Constable Van Maanenberg reporting on 27 September and revealing the following things:
(a) a possible conspiracy between Nikolaidou, Peter Batchelor, Secretary of the Victorian Australian Labor Party and persons unknown to mislead or deceive voters.
(b) a briefing was given on 17 August 1985 by Mr Peter Batchelor, Secretary of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party, at the electoral office of Mrs Kay Setches, ALP MLA for Ringwood, at 12 Railway Place, Ringwood, where the Nuclear Disarmament card (folio 32) was issued to ALP members and helpers for distribution at polling booths.
(c) a senior adviser to the Premier of Victoria could also have been involved in the distribution of those cards.
(d) some members of the Australian Labor Party were recognised as distributing the card at polling booths on 17/8/85.
This preliminary report when to Chief Commissioner Mick Miller and Assistant Commissioner Paul Delianis on 30 September and on that same day further investigations were ordered. While these further investigations were under way, legal counsel, Mr D.G. Habersberger, who had been briefed on the matter, advised the Crown Solicitor, Mr R.J. Lambert, that the Australian Labor Party had breached section 267B(1) of the Constitution Act Amendment Act 1958, which prohibited any activity likely to mislead or deceive an elector in relation to the casting of a vote of the elector.
This advice, together with a memorandum from the Crown Solicitor stating that he had `no reason to disagree with the views of Mr Habersberger', was forwarded to the Chief Electoral Officer on 9 October. The Crown Solicitor recommended that upon receipt of the final police report all relevant documents be submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration and appropriate action.
The final police report was completed by Detective Inspector R.H. Russell on 19 December 1985 and contained compelling observations, conclusions and recommendations. In respect of the actual events on polling day, the report commented:
On this day voters receiving this card have told police they were misled or deceived, believing the card to be the official NDP card. Police have also been told by some NDP helpers (handing out official NDP cards) that they were approached by persons, shown the Nuclear Disarmament card, and either informed that policy had been changed, or that they were being relieved and they should go to some other particular booth. Police have also been told that on the official NDP helper leaving one booth the official NDP card was placed in the rubbish bin and the Nuclear Disarmament card distributed in its place.
A great number of people were interviewed by the Victoria Police during the course of the inquiry, including members of the NDP, the Australian Democrats, the Liberal Party, the ALP and those most directly involved, plus voters who were misled. The report commented in detail on the distinct lack of cooperation with the investigation of some people, particularly Mrs Kay Setches, former MLA for Ringwood. The report concluded:
67. I believe there has been an agreement by Nikolaidou, Batchelor and other unknown persons to devise a scheme in an attempt to induce voters to allocate their preference votes in a manner which would give an advantage to the ALP in the election, the result of which was expected to be a close contest.
68. I do not fully accept the account put forward by Batchelor in his release, and the facts put forward in later interviews on television programs with him. It appears he was more prepared to talk to the press than the police, and I believe it was an attempt to hamper and restrict any further police investigation.
69. It is obvious that a deliberate attempt was made to influence the rights of individuals when voting in a democratic election, but the identity of all the persons involved would not be known due to the lack of cooperation by witnesses in their refusal to answer questions.
70. I am concerned, due to this lack of cooperation, that police have not been able to thoroughly investigate all aspects of this enquiry.
71. I believe, however, there is sufficient evidence to support a prima facie case of conspiracy to `defraud' under common law against Nikolaidou, Batchelor and Salvaris with persons name unknown.
That is the end of those sections of the report. Inspector Russell then formally recommended in his report that Mr Nick Nikolaidou, Mr Peter Batchelor and Mr Michael Salvaris be charged with common law conspiracy in defrauding voters or conspiracy in deceiving voters under the Crimes Act section 321(1). Additionally, Inspector Russell recommended that Mr Nick Nikolaidou be charged with authorising material likely to mislead or deceive an elector under section 267B(1) of the Constitution Act Amendment Act. Moreover, the recommendation was made that the following persons be charged under section 267B(1) with distributing material likely to mislead or deceive an elector, namely, Mr Peter Batchelor, Mr Michael Salvaris, Mr Ronald James Carli, Mr Stefano Di Pieri, Mr Paul Slape, Mr Ian Baker, Mr Hand Van Leeuwen, Mr Ian Maxwell, Mr Peter McDonald and Mr William Cooper.
Mr Peter Batchelor and the honourable Mr Ian Baker are now the State members for Thomastown and Sunshine respectively. Mr Baker was, until recently, also State Minister for Food and Agriculture. Mr Paul Slape is now State President of the ALP in Victoria.
After submission of the police report just prior to Christmas 1985, the legal assistant to the police in the Crown Solicitor's office, Mr D.J. Grace, reviewed the police report and the opinion of Mr Habersberger. He concluded, on 20 January 1986, that there was evidence to substantiate charges against several persons under section 267B(1) of the Act, and also concluded that it would be difficult on the available evidence to sustain the conspiracy charges.
In March the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr John Coldrey QC, recommended that prosecutions be laid against several persons allegedly involved in the publication and distribution of the fake how-to-vote card. This advice was then sent along with the police report by the Chief Commissioner to the Chief Electoral Officer on 19 March 1986. Next day, the Chief Electoral Officer informed the Director-General of Property and Services by memo of these events. On 21 March the Chief Electoral Officer requested the Crown Solicitor to seek the advice of the Solicitor-General, Mr Hartog Berkeley, and junior counsel, Mr Gerard Nash. It was later disclosed, during an appeal under the Freedom of Information Act in early 1987 before Judge Rowlands of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, that the Director-General of Property and Services, Dr G.W. Russell—as recalled by the Chief Electoral Officer in relation to the Director-General—said:
. . . had been talking to the Minister that the suggestion was that because of the element of doubt in the opinion they had already received, it might be an idea to perhaps seek some further legal advice from the Solicitor-General.
On 2 April 1986 the Solicitor-General and Mr Nash recommended that no prosecutions be initiated. Further convoluted administrative and legal manoeuvres took place, all of which resulted with the Chief Electoral Officer, on 8 May 1986, deciding not to press charges. In the FOI hearing before the AAT that ended with an order on 28 May 1987 to release all legal documents except the police report, Judge Rowlands said, on page 19 of his judgment:
The independence of which the CEO spoke does not sit comfortably with the fact that he passed on the early opinions to his departmental head who consulted with the Minister before offering unsolicited advice to him upon which he acted.
The then Minister for Property and Services, the honourable Mr Andrew McCutcheon, referred to by Judge Rowlands, did later release the police report in highly emasculated form. Both the Continental Airlines affair, and the Nunawading by-election cover-up, with their appalling lack of action upon obvious and well documented evidence, are gravely disturbing reflections upon the standard of law enforcement and justice in Victoria under Labor and leave key questions hanging in the air.
Why, in the Continental Airlines affair, despite clear evidence and presumably additional data drawn from the Commonwealth Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and elsewhere, did no concrete action result?
Why, in the Nunawading by-election cover-up, despite the recommendation by the actual investigating Victoria Police officers that charges be laid—a recommendation agreed with by Mr Habersberger, Mr Grace and Mr Coldrey—did nothing happen? Was there any connection between these almost simultaneous and peculiar sets of circumstances?
Only a thorough investigation of both debacles could find the answers to these and other compelling questions. If the National Crime Authority will not examine these very disturbing matters, then they should become part of the major inquiry into alleged Victoria Police corruption and related matters announced last week by the new Kennett coalition Government.
In conclusion, I seek leave to table the various documents that I referred to throughout my speech and which I have already shown to the Minister at the table.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Nehl)—Is leave granted?
Mr Duncan —No.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Leave is not granted.