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Thursday, 17 November 1983
Page: 2873

Mr PEACOCK —I refer the Prime Minister to the first question asked of him today by the honourable member for Boothby. The last part of his question referred to the trade union official who organised the meeting which the Prime Minister described. In his question the honourable member for Boothby referred to a trade union official who organised this, and the Prime Minister confirmed that a trade union official had done that. Was this an official of the Teamsters Union, and was it Michael Rudy Tham?

Mr HAWKE —This is like one of Mungo's straight off-breaks-not very probing and totally ineffective-and deserves the same treatment. Before I answer the question directly, let me refer to the whole process that has been involved in this pathetic line of questioning and innuendo yesterday and today. One would be excused for coming to the conclusion that the Opposition is totally satisfied with this Government's conduct of economic policy and the important issues of this country because there have been no questions directed to such matters.

Mr Peacock —Because you are associated with the Mafia.

Mr HAWKE —We have this tissue of innuendo--

Mr Peacock —It is a sad day when the Prime Minister associates with the Mafia.

Mr HAWKE —We have this McCarthy-like tactic--

Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the Opposition will cease interjecting.

Mr Peacock —Well, it is a sad day when this Prime Minister gets into bed with the Mafia.

Mr ACTING SPEAKER —We have had member after member from the front bench of the Opposition interjecting in the last few minutes. I believe there is a need to observe some decorum.

Mr HAWKE —Mr Acting Speaker, you will have noticed the continuation of the McCarthyist tactic by this interjection from the Leader of the Opposition that it is a sad day for this country when the Prime Minister gets into bed with the Mafia. That is the contemptible standard. I look at every member of the Opposition front bench and wonder whether he associates himself with it. I see two nodding heads. Let us have the matter right out. We have this McCarthyist tactic of guilt by association. Because, as I have said, on one occasion I spent two hours in a cafe bar in San Francisco and met a person-it turns out that completely unknown to me the person involved apparently had some Mafia connection-a person I have never seen again and would not recognise if I ever saw him again, that means getting into bed with the Mafia. I ask the people of Australia to make their judgment about me and about the Leader of the Opposition . I also ask all members of the Opposition, particularly those on the front bench, to make it clear whether they identify themselves with this allegation, this guilt by association on this basis. They should all face up to it and make it clear whether they-they know who I am looking at-associate themselves--

Mr Sinclair —Answer the question.

Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! The right honourable member for New England will remain silent.

Mr Steedman —Andrew wants to know whether it was a gay bar.

Mr HAWKE —Mr Acting Speaker, I knew as much about their sexual proclivities as I knew about their political, criminal or any other proclivities. I could not enlighten the House any more on that point than I could on any other of their other qualities. I wish to make this point--

Mr Goodluck —He is not answering the question.

Mr HAWKE —I will answer the question; do not worry about that. It would be best if we had this right out. I have explained what happened-the total innocence of that couple of hours and the complete lack of former association or post- association. I ask all members of this House and the people of Australia to make their judgment based on that clear statement. I ask them at the same time to judge the Leader of the Opposition-and those associated with him-when on that basis he accuses the Prime Minister of this country of getting into bed with the Mafia.

Mr Peacock —It will be interesting to see what David Combe writes if you don't answer the question. Combe will tell the truth.

Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! The honourable gentleman is obliged to listen to the answer and will cease interjecting.

Mr Peacock —But he hasn't answered it.

Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Kooyong will have some regard for the dignity of this House.

Mr HAWKE —I want to make the next point. There is an attempt to prove guilt by association in regard to a completely innocent situation. It would be quite easy , I guess, for people on this side of the House, if they wanted to engage in this tactic, to do so. I suppose that we could refer to the fact that people on that side of the House, their leaders and those associated with them, not only met with someone for two hours in a cafe but also had as an adviser a person who was sent to gaol for several years and has just been released. That was not a casual meeting in some cafe bar. The previous Prime Minister had as an adviser a gentleman-he went to him for advice-who has just been released from prison. I do not say in respect of this matter that because those opposite had this gentleman as an adviser they are tainted with his crime.

Mr Peacock —It is a precis of David's forthcoming book.

Mr HAWKE —It is a development of a good point. The name mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition is the correct name. This gentleman, Tham, was the person referred to me from within Australia and he was the person to whom I spoke. That is the fact. Never on my part has there been any attempt to deny that fact. I have spoken about this matter with many people; it is known to my acquaintances. It is a simple case of this derelict Opposition, now totally unable to deal with the important issues of this country-the economy and social problems-being reduced to attempting to prove guilt by association. I have put openly to this House the fact of that passing, totally innocent meeting in a cafe bar in San Francisco. I have put the facts. The Leader of the Opposition is saying to the people of Australia that on the basis of what happened there the Prime Minister has got into bed with the Mafia. I hope that the Opposition will continue to pursue this line because, if it is possible, the standing of the Leader of the Opposition according to public opinion will plummet even further.

May I conclude on this observation: Yesterday, using this same tactic, that poor, pathetic creature over there said: 'The Prime Minister wanted to gaol me'. If there is one thing I do not want to do it is to remove this Leader of the Opposition from this place. He is the greatest asset that this Government and I have going for us.