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Thursday, 13 September 1984
Page: 958


Senator CHANEY —Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware of an article in today's Melbourne Age which claims that the name of Mrs L. Murphy appears on the back of a cheque stub, a copy of the front of which was tabled in the Senate yesterday as one of a series tabled by the Minister for Resources and Energy in an attempt to smear members on this side of the House? Has the Minister made any inquiries to ascertain whether the facts contained in the Age are correct?


Senator BUTTON —Mr President, I am not aware of the article in the Melbourne Age. I have not seen the Age this morning.


Senator Crichton-Browne —Would you like a copy now?


Senator BUTTON —I am grateful to Senator Crichton-Browne for his help, but I believe that the Attorney-General is aware of this matter. If Senator Chaney wishes to redirect the question to him, it may obtain an earlier answer.


Senator GARETH EVANS —Mr President, I seek to add something on this matter. Just a few minutes before Question Time, my office was contacted by Mr Justice Murphy of the High Court who asked that the following statement be made in the Parliament should the opportunity arise or should it be required. The statement is to the following effect:

The Age story is a continuation of a disgraceful campaign of defamation by the Age now directed against my wife. My wife never has purchased a diamond in her life. There have been no dealings ever with Mr Christo Moll of any kind. There is not an atom of truth in the Age story. I request that there be a full and prompt investigation of the allegations and of the role of the Age in this affair.

I have had no opportunity to do more than write that down and now retail it to the Senate. I propose to raise the matter with the Special Minister of State who , I presume through the Australian Federal Police, is responsible for investigations of the kind His Honour has in mind. I will advise the Senate at some appropriate time of the course those investigations in fact follow.


Senator CHANEY —Mr President, I wish to ask a supplementary question. I preface it by saying that I acknowledge the propriety of the Attorney-General reading the statement that he has read. I believe that that is just as proper as the statements made by Senator Crichton-Browne and me yesterday in similar circumstances. My supplementary question relates to the fact that the Minister has not really addressed the question that I asked the Leader of the Government, and I would be grateful if he would. First, I asked whether the Minister was aware of the article, and it appears that the Attorney-General is. The article claims that the name appears on the back of cheque stubs and so on. There are a series of allegations in the article about that. My question is: Have any inquiries been made to ascertain whether the facts contained in the Age report are correct? I wish to emphasise that I am not asking whether Mrs Murphy got a diamond. I am not for a moment suggesting that that is the case. I am asking about the facts in the article, which suggests that there are certain writings on cheques or what purport to be cheques and whether the facts are as broadly set out in this document? Apparently the document is in the hands of the Federal Police, so this is a matter which ought to be within the knowledge of the Government.


Senator GARETH EVANS —I became aware of this article only a few minutes ago-in fact, at the time that the phone call came through to my office. My attention this morning was preoccupied with another article in the Age which I shall make the subject of a full personal explanation straight after Question Time, if the matter in not pursued in Question Time. I literally have not absorbed the detail in the article, except to notice that it is not only about the alleged involvement of a Mrs L. Murphy, but also about a series of transactions involving Mr Christo Moll. It is well known that there is a long-standing Federal Police investigation of that gentleman and various commercial transactions in which he has been involved. I will endeavour to find out the state of play on that investigation and advise the Senate in due course as to what can be put on the public record about that, including the particular matters that are raised in the course of this article.