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Tuesday, 25 June 2002
Page: 4301

Mr CREAN (3:21 PM) —My question is to the Attorney-General. I ask him if he is aware that as recently as 6 June Mr Rick McDonell, head of the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering secretariat in the National Crime Authority was asked a question: `Could money still be laundered through Nauru to terrorist organisations', to which Mr McDonell replied, `Yes. Until Nauru has a full and comprehensive law in place and other money laundering standards and measures, then it will be a vulnerable place for money laundering and it will be attractive to money launderers.'

Mr Downer —That is why we have been helping them.

Mr CREAN —Oh, that is why you have been helping them, Minister! In light of the help and the fact that that was still said categorically as recently as 6 June, why did you, Attorney-General, authorise Senator Ellison to lobby the OECD in recent weeks to have Nauru taken off its list of money laundering countries?

Mr WILLIAMS (Attorney-General) —I am not aware of the statement alleged by the Leader of the Opposition to have been made by the officer of the Asia-Pacific regional group of the Financial Action Task Force. I will check to see whether the Leader of the Opposition is correct. But I can say about Nauru that it has been the subject of considerable attention by the Asia-Pacific regional group and by the Financial Action Task Force. As recently as early June, it was the subject of discussion at the Asia-Pacific regional group and, as recently as last week, it was the subject of discussion at a full meeting of the Financial Action Task Force. As the Minister for Foreign Affairs has made absolutely plain, Australia has been assisting Nauru to bring its legislation and structures into place. As he said, Nauru is a small country; it does not have extensive and sophisticated mechanisms in place. Australia has been assisting Nauru and will continue to assist. It is not plausible to accuse the Howard government of being soft on terrorism or soft on crime. We are working with Nauru to get it right.

Mr Crean —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order: to assist the Attorney-General, I seek leave to table a transcript of the interview with Mr McDonell, which I referred to in my question.

Leave granted.