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Wednesday, 15 October 2003
Page: 21497

Mr McMULLAN (3:47 PM) —I actually want to raise a matter that does not relate to next Thursday and Friday. As I gave notice to you through the clerks, I want to seek your indulgence to raise a matter which goes beyond what a personal explanation can deal with. It deals with what I think is close to a contempt of the parliament.

The SPEAKER —The member for Fraser may proceed.

Mr McMULLAN —It has been drawn to my attention that on Tuesday, 7 October in the Senate Economics Committee, Mr Fletcher, a director of a company called Manildra Park Petroleum, stated to that committee:

I was at one meeting with Mr McMullan .... He said to us: `We're all for ethanol but, when the politics come into it, we're more interested in getting the Prime Minister.'

He went on to confirm it, and the chair said, `That was ungracious.' I have to say: that is an unmitigated fabrication. It is a total lie. I absolutely repudiate that any such thing was said. I have checked with other people, who were in the meeting when I met with that gentleman, to confirm that that is so. I accept that, in public debate, people will say things about us, and they come into parliament and express their views about our policies and sometimes about our personalities. They are entitled to do that. It is a free country. But the protection of parliament and its privilege does not give us the right to tell lies about other people, and it does not give other people the right to tell lies about us.

This is such a blatant and unqualified fabrication that I feel obliged to draw it to your attention. If it had occurred in the House, I would be raising it with you as a matter of a contempt. As it occurred in the Senate, I do not have the right to do that and, frankly, I do not particularly want to do that. It will only give the person unwarranted publicity. But I do want to draw to your attention that Senate practice does clearly say that it is an offence by a witness which may be treated as a contempt to give false or misleading evidence to a committee of the Senate. While I know that neither the House nor you has the capacity to take action about a matter that took place in the Senate, I do request that you might draw this matter and the concerns that I have raised to the attention of the President of the Senate.

The SPEAKER —I will follow up the matter raised by the member for Fraser and take it up with the President. I would expect that the President would be reporting back to the member for Fraser on the action he has taken.