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Wednesday, 4 April 2001
Page: 26510

Mr Tanner asked the Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business, upon notice, on 8 February 2001:

(1) Did the former Minister on 11 November 2000 advise that independent legal advice was being obtained on whether I had committed the offence of champerty by accepting assistance from the Maritime Union to pursue Federal Court proceedings against the former Minister and his Department.

(2) Has the advice been obtained: if so, (a) from which practitioners and (b) what sum is the Commonwealth liable to pay for the

Mr Abbott (Minister for Employment, Workplace Relations and Small Business) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) The former Minister informed Parliament (Hansard, Thursday 9 November 2000, page P19942) on 9 November 2000 that:

“ My Department further advises that the funding of one party to take forward the legal action on behalf of another party could appear to be an example of champerty - an illegal sharing in the proceeds of litigation by one who promotes it or where one party gets direct benefit from legal actions undertaken on its behalf by another. The member for Melbourne will not be surprised that I have sought legal advice on the legality of a deal which provides him personally with more than $100,000 to fund a political campaign in which he is the dummy, as usual, for the MUA.”

(2) (a) I have been advised that preliminary advice on the tort of champerty was provided orally during a telephone conference on 16 November 2000 and that after further consideration of that issue by Counsel, further advice on champerty was provided orally during a telephone conference on 7 December 2000, and that all this advice was provided by Mr Nunzio Lucarelli QC and Mr David Chan of Counsel instructed by Australian Government Solicitor.

(b) I have been advised that the total amount payable for this advice was $4,679.00.