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Tuesday, 30 August 1994
Page: 576

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:

  That the Senate—


    (i)the false report by Australian Associated Press (AAP) on 29 August 1994 that appeared in media around Australia on 30 August 1994 alleging that the Opposition said it `would not support' Senator Lees' notice of motion given on 25 August 1994 congratulating Ms Cathy Freeman for her outstanding successes at the Commonwealth Games,

    (ii)that, on the contrary, the Coalition did not oppose the notice of motion after its unsuccessful attempt to amend it to make the motion non-controversial in line with normal formal motions to be passed without debate, and that the motion was then passed unanimously, with no voice raised in opposition,

    (iii)that a large part of the resolution passed was, in fact, drafted by the Opposition sports spokesman (Senator Campbell) and incorporated by Senator Lees, particularly clause four which `commends Cathy for her pride in her Aboriginal heritage and the inspiration and encouragement she provides to young Australians and particularly young Aboriginal Australians',

    (iv)that AAP falsely related Senator Campbell's remark, that the Opposition would not support the motion to suspend standing orders to debate the issue, with the actual motion itself,

    (v)that Senator Baume said during that debate `I commend Cathy Freeman for carrying the Aboriginal flag with the Australian flag' and described her as `a great young Australian woman athlete who has done her community, her nation and herself so proud at these Commonwealth Games' and that other Coalition speakers expressed similar sentiments, and

    (vi)that Senator Lees is quoted by AAP as falsely asserting that the Coalition `refused to support the motion', that the Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs (Mr Tickner) is quoted as referring to the Coalition's `opposition to a Senate motion commending' Cathy Freeman's performance, and that an anonymous Labor cabinet minister has falsely and mendaciously briefed the media on a `background' basis, knowing what he said was false; and

  (b)calls on:

    (i)AAP to correct its false report,

    (ii)Senator Lees to tell the truth,

    (iii)Mr Tickner to apologise for his error, and

    (iv)the anonymous cabinet minister to stop lying to the media.

  Senator Robert Ray—I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy President. We have admonished Senator Margetts from Western Australia on these long notices of motion.

  Senator Reid—It wasn't a long notice of motion.

  Senator Robert Ray—I would have thought it could be more appropriately dealt with in the adjournment debate when Senator Baume could actually argue and debate the particular issues. Implied in Senator Baume's statement—although we are not in the position in the Senate to say whether Senator Lees was telling the truth—is reliance on a rumour that a cabinet minister backgrounded it. Senator Baume did not put any evidence forward on it.

Senator Michael Baume —Yes, I have. Do you want it?

  Senator Robert Ray—Standing order 76(7) has been referred to. If Senator Baume is going to make those sorts of accusations, I think it is more appropriate that he put them on the adjournment so people can come in and defend themselves, or seek not to.

Senator Michael Baume —I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy President. The only way one can debate a serious charge about a cabinet minister is by substantive motion. This provides that opportunity, if we decide to proceed down that track. That is the first point. The second point is that in terms of substance and length it is my view—there may be a contrary view available—that it is essential to assert all those matters to demonstrate how false the report was and how that report has been falsely and mendaciously used by others.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I have listened carefully to the two matters. It is never conclusive in certain situations whether long quotations are necessary. I have to say, Senator Baume, that I was tempted to say at the conclusion of your notice of motion that I thought that you were in breach of standing order 76(7) with the length of your quotations. With respect to the reference to lies, because you have given notice of a motion which can become, as you say, a substantive motion in respect of the minister, I rule it in order.