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Thursday, 10 November 1983
Page: 2638


Mr ALDRED(9.33) —I am concerned and appalled by moves by this Government to establish a casino in the national capital without any effort to determine the wishes of the residents of Canberra, without any effort to investigate the possible implications, both economic and social, that a casino may have. The real issue for the people of Canberra is not whether it is desirable that a gambling casino be established in the national capital, but whether it is in the public interest that a casino be established here. The most recent inquiry into casinos was undertaken in 1982-83 for the Victorian Government by the Hon. Xavier Connor, QC, a former Federal judge. In his report titled 'Report of the Board of Inquiry into Casinos', he found that casinos should not be established in Victoria for the following reasons: Casinos would be likely to stimulate casino gambling to an unacceptable degree; there is no substantial demonstrable demand for them; there would be a substantial risk that in one way or another they would be infiltrated by organised crime elements; they are likely to be accompanied by an unacceptable level of street crime; they are not, by comparison with certain other forms of gambling, likely to be efficient producers of revenue for the State.

The Victorian Labor Premier John Cain was equally vocal against casinos. In a ministerial statement to the State Parliament on 24 May 1983, Mr Cain said:

The Government is not prepared to expose this State and its citizens to the avoidable risk of introducing a facility upon which organised crime could propser.

Mr Cain went on to say:

We do not propose to test the capacity of the police force or any regulatory body which the Government might establish to supervise casinos and therefore have come firmly to the view that no casino of whatever variety should be set up in this State.

That was stated by a Labor Premier. Let us see what other Labor Party luminaries have to say about casinos. The Australian Capital Territory Labor Party Council also opposes a casino for Canberra. In fact, according to the Canberra Times of 22 October, the Party's Council once again endorsed its opposition. Of course, members of the Labor Party by now should be used to the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke ) riding roughshod over them. They should be used to having Labor Party policy made on jets flitting from country to country, or in the Lodge over a glass of whatever. Yes, ALP members may be used to it and accept it, but it is completely unacceptable that the residents of this beautiful city should be treated in the same way by this Prime Minister.

Churches representing all major denominations in the Australian Capital Territory publicly called on the Government to rescind the decision. Editorials in the Canberra Times and in the Sydney Morning Herald have slammed the casino proposal. But still this Government persists. Why? The Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Hurford) told the Master Builders Federation in October that a casino would give the national capital a welcome economic boost. In fact, the Minister naively sounded like he had discovered El Dorado in Canberra. He said that the casino would provide employment and it would stimulate tourism. The Minister for Sport, Recreation and Tourism (Mr John Brown)-or, should I say, the Minister for Koalas-sounded like Little Sir Echo as he cheered on his ministerial colleague and predicted wonders for Canberra's tourism trade.

Let us look at what the experts say. Mr Connor, in his report, said:

It must also be conceded that there could be some significant rearrangement of the gambling dollar and perhaps a more significant drop in TAB revenue. Current employment levels arising from other forms of gambling could be reduced.

He further stated:

If revenue was the principal consideration, on the basis of figures considered by the Board, the further promotion of lotteries and the invigoration of the racing industry would make far more sense than the introduction of casino gambling.

I wonder whether the retailers of Civic or Manuka are aware that when Atlantic City introduced a casino the result was the loss of 600 retail jobs and the closure of five supermarkets and a department store. Let us look at the tourism question. The Standing Committee on Tourism and Recreation of the Australian Capital Territory Legislative Assembly, in its 1977 report on a casino proposal for Canberra, in regard to Wrest Point, stated:

We were somewhat surprised to learn that the patrons of the casino included a very large proportion of Tasmanians. It was said and believed that between 70 and 80 per cent of the people in the casino at any one time were from Hobart.

Let me turn to one other very disturbing aspect; that is, the link between casinos and organised crime. The link has been well established overseas and also Mr Connor made special reference to it. In his report he stated:

There would be substantial risk that in one way or another casinos would be infiltrated by organised crime elements. Casinos are likely to be acompanied by an unacceptable level of street crime.

After tabling the Connor report, Premier Cain said:

The Government is not prepared to expose this State and its citizens to the avoidable risk of introducing a facility upon which organised crime could prosper. The Board concluded that the confidence of certain police witnesses as to their ability to control organised crime was misplaced. The Government has confidence in the Victorian police. But it cannot disregard the conclusions of the Board that a casino would be highly susceptible to the overtures of organised crime and that such elements would extend their overtures to any regulatory body established to supervise casinos.

I do not think I need to go on much longer establishing the links between casinos and crime in general. But before I refer to possible crime links with the Canberra proposal, I quote from Mr Justice Moffitt's report titled ' Allegations of Organised Crime in Clubs, 1974'. At page 43 it is stated:

A weapon of organised crime is to insulate from the crime those who organise it . . . in seeking to make decisions as to the presence and operation of organised crime, investigators, and hence governments, will normally have to rely on evidence of a different character to that necessary to prove crime itself. The actual link would rarely, if ever, be provable by any direct evidence, but the connection of the criminals with the business and the connections of the business with the crime may be sufficiently proximate to enable the probability of the link to be inferred.

Keeping in mind Mr Justice Moffitt's comments, I now turn to the unique situation of a link between organised crime bosses and the push for a casino in Canberra. One of the richest men in Australia is Eddie Kornhauser, who was recently named at the Costigan Royal Commission into the Activities of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union. Kornhauser is a close associate of Abe Saffron, described by the then Labor shadow Attorney-General in Queensland, Bob Gibbs, as 'a purveyor of brothels in Sydney'. Kornhauser is also the same man who was described in 1956 by New South Wales Licensing Court magistrate, Mr S. M. Stewart, as 'not a fit person to hold a publican's licence'. Kornhauser is also the man who was interested in establishing a casino in Melbourne. Furthermore, in 1981-82 he attempted to persuade the Queensland Government to grant a company with which he was associated a casino licence. The Queensland Goverment was strongly lobbied by a senior politician on behalf of Kornhauser. In fact, the policitican made a trip to Brisbane to put the casino case for Kornhauser. This politician has links with the current push for a casino in Canberra. The politician, or should I say Linkman, is no stranger in the shady world of crime boses. He is the same man who in 1978 travelled to the United States of America with the now disgraced David Combe and met with the Mafia hood Sal Amarena. Sal, who among his friends boasts of men like Jimmy 'the weasel' Fatianno, a confessed Mafia murderer, had lengthy discussions with Combe and his soon-to-be-politician mate. It was Jimmy 'the weasel' Fattianno who has testifed twice under oath that he was introduced to Sir Peter Abeles by Rudy Tham of the San Francisco Teamsters Union. The meeting took place in 1975.

In 1980 Victorian police sergeant Acting Inspector Phillip Wallis made some interesting comments to members of the Advanced Detective Training School. I will quote from the Victorian State Parliament Hansard of 20 October 1983, page 1305, relating to this police officer's comments about Sir Peter Abeles. The Hansard reports Sergeant Wallis as telling the course that Sir Peter was followed 'from Australia on a visit to the West Coast of America and was seen and photographed consorting with Mafia members and known Mafia members and was seen in many entertainment clubs with these Mafia connections'.

And yet again the link emerges. Who is the close friend of Abeles, if not the politician mentioned earlier? It is the same politician-


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Les Johnson) —Order!


Mr ALDRED —That politician is the Prime Minister.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member is reflecting on the character of a number of persons in the course of his contribution to this debate. I think he is aware of the need for substantive motions when such reflections are to be indulged in. I ask him to have regard to those provisions.


Mr ALDRED —I will. I am drawing my remarks to a close at the moment. It is the same politician who is now-


Mr Dawkins —Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order on the point that you have just raised. In fact, the honourable member for Bruce went much further than that. He made a series of very serious allegations without naming anybody and simply named someone at the end. I think the person named is not here, as is normal, and I think it is appropriate that the honourable member for Bruce should withdraw the allegations.


Mr ALDRED —Mr Deputy Speaker, I conclude my remarks. I ask why the Prime Minister is so strongly pushing this casino for Canberra.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.


Mr MacKellar —Why are you sitting him down?


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will come to order. I ask the honourable member to sit down while I rule on the point of order. The honourable member for Bruce has now decided to sit down because he has concluded his speech . I will not have an honourable member challenging the Chair's ruling in this matter. The matter was being dealt with totally in compliance with the Standing Orders of the House. I was about to rule on the point of order that the Minister has drawn to my attention. It is difficult having regard to the way the honourable member rendered his speech to recall his precise words and to have them withdrawn. I noticed that in the point of order the Minister did not refer to any particular remarks. He can be assured that if I had an effective recollection of any disparaging words used I would call for their withdrawal.


Mr Dawkins —It seems that the difficulty-


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! Is the Minister speaking to the point of order?


Mr Dawkins —Yes. Mr Deputy Speaker, it seems to me that both you and I are in a difficult position. The Standing Orders are perfectly clear. If someone is going to reflect on a member of this House it is required that the remarks be made in the context of a substantive motion. In fact, the honourable member for Bruce has quite clearly breached the Standing Orders by proceeding-


Mr MacKellar —What is the point of order?


Mr Dawkins —That is up to the Deputy Speaker. I am sure he can do quite well without the honourable member's assistance.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member will address the Chair.


Mr Dawkins —Mr Deputy Speaker, as you have already said, the Standing Orders are perfectly clear. I just wonder what remedies you have in these circumstances when an honourable member has quite clearly flouted the Standing Orders as you have pointed out.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —I think the House will recall that it was with total spontaneity that I raised the question and asked the honourable member to have regard for the Standing Orders. He indicated his preparedness to comply at that point. I am unable to do anything retrospective in the matter. I believe the incident is one that honourable members to advantage could have regard to in future debates.