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Wednesday, 29 November 2000
Page: 20136

Senator CONROY (3:28 PM) —What we have seen today is a pathetic defence, an attempt to avoid the very subject which this motion is about, and that is talking about how many Liberal snouts can this mob get into the trough of the GST. That is what the questions we were asking were about: the tax office and the undue influence of spivs who come in from the other side and put on their ties. They are spivs with law degrees who think they can go out and represent the big end of town. All the spivs are loose.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Conroy, I am not quite sure but you sound like you are going very close to making an imputation against members of the government. I would ask you to withdraw it.

Senator CONROY —If the shoe fits lawyers, then I plead guilty. I did not actually impute anything to anybody on the other side.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —You might like to make clear what you are talking about.

Senator CONROY —It may be a general impu-tation about lawyers. How many of them there are on the other side is a matter of public debate, but there are at least four that I can see from here.

What this debate is about is how many Liberal snouts can this mob lead to the trough. We have seen in the last few days the matter of Chris Jordan, the independent expert. We have seen the uncovering of the fact that Chris Jordan in 1987 worked in the Prime Minister's office.

Senator Brandis —It is on the public record.

Senator CONROY —There is nothing wrong with that, Senator Brandis. You do not need to be ashamed. This is not a reflection on Chris Jordan; this is a reflection on the propriety of those on the other side. All you needed to do to avoid this debate was to declare that Mr Jordan was a former staffer for the Prime Minister. That is all you needed to do. But, no, the government knew they could not have Mr Jordan masquerading as independent if it had come to light that in actual fact he was the Prime Minister's former tax adviser. How on earth could they credibly put up a bloke who was the Prime Minister's former tax adviser?

This is not a reflection on Mr Jordan's competence; this is a reflection on this government's deceit in its attempts to mislead the Australian public about the impartiality of this start-up office. What is the first thing that Mr Jordan does? He is hired as an expert in the area. He is hired as someone who can give many lectures and can talk fluently and publicly, and what is the first thing he does? He gives a $200,000 contract to another member of the Liberal mates club. To make sure it continues, it has got Graeme Morris, that disgraced former chief adviser to none other than the Prime Minister, who coincidentally happened to be the chief of staff for John Howard when Mr Jordan was working for Mr Howard. We have got another huge government taxpayer funded contract going to another disgraced staffer for this government.

Then we discovered last week that the Tourism Council of Australia, the only tourism organisation in this country which advocated support for the GST, had revealed in its own 1999 accounts that it was insolvent—it could not pay its debts. What did this mob do? They gave a $2.3 million contract to run GST seminars to their mates in an organisation that was insolvent, just to prop it up. Who were the stars behind the Tourism Council? Bruce Baird, former New South Wales minister, currently in the other place. He ran it into the ground. He finished up in 1998 and they were going down the gurgler financially in 1998. Scott Morrison came on board around the same time and left in 1999. Where did Scott Morrison go to? He is the New South Wales director of the Liberal Party now. This is a mob that gave a $2.3 million contract to an insolvent organisation of their mates to keep it afloat.

But it does not stop there. We have got Mark Pearson, who is in the book The Victory at page 159:

When he arrived, Pearson drew a big circle on his whiteboard and labelled it `we'. This was the Australian electorate, he said, and Howard had to get to the centre of it—a point which they defined as `standing for everyone' ... Every Coalition advertisement would give expression to this highly devisive theme. It was one of Pearson's great findings, Horton declared jubilantly.

He was another of the mates, and what happened there? For 7½ months work, what does he get paid? It is $405,000 for 7½ months work—another Liberal mate cashing in big on the GST. They have run out of Liberal mates to give contracts to promoting the GST. We are up to $3 million or $4 million to a bunch of Liberal Party former staffers who all worked on the Liberal Party election campaigns. (Time expired)

Question resolved in the affirmative.