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Monday, 23 March 1987
Page: 1347


Mr HOLLIS(10.20) —It was interesting to listen to the honourable member for Groom (Mr McVeigh). Maybe when the election is called the Joh Nationals will be put to the test. I issue a challenge and ask that a Joh candidate be put up against me in Throsby. Rest assured that the Throsby electorate contains more than 2,000 voters so the Joh Nationals will have to have more than 25 per cent of 2,000 voters to get a candidate up in Throsby. Today the honourable member for Dawson (Mr Braithwaite) raised in this Parliament a matter of privilege which, Madam Speaker, you ruled on this evening. The honourable member for Dawson claimed that outside forces were threatening members of this House. He claimed that a threat to sue him was in fact clearly an attempt to intimidate him. Actually, I thought this claim a bit strange coming as it did from a member of the Queensland National Party. As I understand it, the President of the Queensland National Party has himself been doing a bit of directing, to say nothing of intimidation, of late. Tonight I raise a matter that could be a matter of privilege but it is not my wish that it go to the Privileges Committee. Instead, I wish to share it with the members of this House. I suggest there has been an attempt to intimidate me. It is outrageous. This afternoon I received a votergram signed by one V. P. White, State Councillor of the Small Business Persons. It commenced:

Has anyone threatened your existence or your safety because of the Australian Card Legislation?

It went on to refer me to a letter in the Australian of 16 March. I had a look at this letter which was a rambling one full of the usual scare tactics and misinformation about the Australia Card. The votergram continued:

The day could quickly arrive that being an M.P. who voted for a reduction of people's liberties could be regarded by some Australians as the actions of an `adversary' to the Australian people.

What I want to know is whether Mr White himself is or some of his cronies are threatening my life or my safety? His votergram suggests this. Has the Right in Australia reached the stage where if one does not agree with it one's existence or one's family's safety, is threatened? I would suggest that this is a much more serious matter than the matter raised by the honourable member for Dawson today. Also, there is the suggestion that because one does not agree with or votes against a matter which it supports one becomes an adversary to the Australian people. I notice that my colleagues the honourable member for Dobell (Mr Lee) and, as usual, the honourable member for Macarthur (Mr Martin), who is always here when I speak, are here. My colleagues and I on this side of the chamber will not be intimidated by the likes of V. P. White.

My support for the Australia Card is well known. I support it because it will do much to eliminate the tax cheats and welfare fraud which together cost the honest taxpayers of Australia $2m a day. The Opposition's blocking of the Australia Card legislation is costing the honest Australian taxpayers $2m a day. This is not the first time the small business lobby has used intimidation against me. Last year the Nowra branch of the Small Business Association organised a public meeting in Nowra to which it invited Waste Watch Baume and the honourable member for Gilmore (Mr Sharp) but it did not bother to invite me. One wonders why! I did not mind this. This group and a Mr Graham Hurst as well as Senator Michael Baume went public and in the newspapers started criticising me for not attending this meeting, which they had not even invited me to. Then they started criticising me for not responding to their non-existent invitation. Of course they forgot to say that they had never even bothered to send me an invitation, or even telephone my office. Despite my writing to Mr Hurst several times asking for the date on which they sent the invitation, they did not even respond to any of my letters. It seems the only thing the Small Business Association knows about is intimidation and cheap threats. Some of us are not impressed with this tactic. It will take more than a threatening votergram from V. P. White of 138 Merrylands Road, Merrylands, NSW, 2160 to intimidate me.