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Tuesday, 3 March 1998
Page: 190

Mrs BAILEY —I address my question to the Attorney-General. Can the Attorney-General inform the House whether he is aware of improper use of Federal Court documents? Can the Attorney-General advise members what the implications of this may be?

Mr WILLIAMS (Attorney-General) —This House should know that in the Senate yesterday Senator Vanstone revealed that the shadow spokesman on legal affairs, Senator Bolkus, had leaked details of confidential action being taken to recover overseas assets from one of Australia's most wanted fugitives: namely, Christopher Skase. Senator Bolkus has been captured red-handed on video revealing to the media the contents of confidential Federal Court documents. It appears those documents have been unlawfully or improperly given to Senator Bolkus or unlawfully or improperly obtained by him.

What Senator Bolkus has done is help Christopher Skase. Senator Bolkus has given Skase the opportunity to know about the action being taken. This will enable Skase to take countermeasures to prevent recovery of the assets. He is acting against the interests of the Australian public. The Australian public want those assets returned for the benefit of creditors.

This is a matter for action by the Leader of the Opposition. It is a time for leadership; a time for responsibility. Does the Leader of the Opposition disapprove of the shadow Attorney-General acting against the public interest? Does the Leader of the Opposition have control over Senator Bolkus? Does the Leader of the Opposition accept that, like ministers, shadow ministers must meet appropriate standards of conduct? To each of these questions the Leader of the Opposition says no. By doing nothing he says no.

Honourable members interjecting

Mr Beazley —Mr Deputy Speaker, my understanding is that if a question has been asked—

Government members interjecting

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! Members on my right! No, you are not to answer rhetorical questions.