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Friday, 1 May 1987
Page: 2473

Mr McGAURAN(4.14) —One of the greatest privileges a member of this place has is immunity from defamation laws, from any sort of prosecution for the destruction of characters. Any person in this chamber who so abuses that privilege, as the member for Charlton (Mr Robert Brown) has just done, totally betrays the fundamental principles upon which this Parliament is founded. He is an absolute coward and a disgrace to this place.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Gippsland will not cast aspersions upon any member in this House, nor will he impugn improper motives.

Mr Robert Brown —On a point of order, Madam Speaker: That disgraceful child who is now addressing the House should withdraw those comments, to which I take personal offence. He is a disgrace to himself, to Parliament and to his electorate.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Gippsland will withdraw the comments he made about the honourable member for Charlton.

Mr McGAURAN —I withdraw and will allow the words of his baseless, unsubstantiated character assassination to stand for themselves.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! When the honourable member withdraws, the Chair simply needs the words `I withdraw'. I now ask the honourable member for Gippsland to say `I withdraw'.

Mr McGAURAN —I withdraw. Several names were mentioned by the honourable member for Charlton, all of them knights of the realm. There was a whole list of them of about eight or nine. Against not one was there any charge of impropriety or any allegation of dishonesty made. Instead he raises their names in this chamber knowing he is totally free of any rights they may have to invoke against him. It is one of the most cowardly, despicable attacks anybody could have made in this place.

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Gippsland has already been asked not to use the language he is using. He will now withdraw his comments.

Mr McGAURAN —I withdraw. Madam Speaker, could you please tell me and everybody else in this chamber how a member can, in all good conscience, stand in this place, just list names, link them to the Premier of Queensland and by that linkage alone conclude there is an act of impropriety or that they are unworthy of the Queen's award? It is sickening to my stomach to hear that sort of allegation made. If the honourable member for Charlton has serious allegations to make against anybody whom the law cannot take remedy against, it is his duty to bring it before this place; but he has not done that, he has simply listed names with gay abandon. I, for one, believe that the most important principle of this place has been breached; that is, one does not needlessly, without just and proper cause, bring somebody's name into this place, the very action of which is a slur on his character, a slur that he has almost no remedy against.

Where are the alleged charges of improper or wrong conduct? The Police Commissioner was one name the honourable member for Charlton mentioned. Sir Terence Lewis has a distinguished record as a Police Commissioner. In my work on the National Crime Authority I know for a fact that he is highly regarded amongst the police forces of this country. I would like to know where are the allegations against him? There were too many names for me to have copied down. He mentioned Sir Roderick Proctor, Sir Leslie Thiess, Sir Wallace Rae and Sir Edward Lyons. What acts of impropriety are being alleged other than that they know and support the Premier of Queensland? All those men have distinguished records in their respective fields; all of them have made a contribution to the community. In many ways, if the honourable member for Charlton does not know of them, he certainly would not have the honesty to acknowledge them. Does any member on this side criticise the annual Queen's Birthday awards, major trade union officials or card carrying members of the Labor when they are made by the Australian Labor Party Government? Of course not. The mere fact that somebody supports the government of the day does not disqualify him from proper recognition of his community, industrial or trade union contributions made over so long. I, more than anybody else, am disappointed in the honourable member for Charlton. Credibility in this place matters. The honourable member for Charlton has always held the respect of most members on this side of the House because he is recognised as having credibility. He has shot that to pieces, irrecoverably in my judgment, if in no one else's, forever today.