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Thursday, 13 September 1984
Page: 973

Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition)(11.16) —I move:

That the Senate censures the Minister for Resources and Energy (Senator Walsh) for his deliberate misleading of the Senate by selective tabling of documents and his refusal to explain his actions despite repeated questioning of the Senate.

I bring this motion against a man who glorifies in the fact that he has been described in newspapers as having a drawer in his office marked 'dirt'. Of course, we are all familiar with the antics of the Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator Walsh, in this place and his unending efforts to smear all of those whom he can to his own political advantage. On this occasion we believe Senator Walsh has passed beyond the line which is even bearable in this place. We believe it is time that the Senate recorded its view of his behaviour.

The censure motion relates specifically to events that have taken place over the last two days. Senator Walsh, of course, misled the Senate yet again when he answered my question to him this morning which I think was the first question he answered today. He said, in answer to my question about his tabling of documents yesterday, that he tabled those documents without comment as to anything that was written on them; they were simply tabled. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yesterday Senator Walsh said:

I have here copies of a number of cheques, which I now table, which may shed some light on the matter, because they are drawn on a well-known Moll company. Of course it would be entirely improper of me to speculate about whether there is any relationship between these copies and votes which have been cast in the Senate.

In other words, he was making an imputation about senators as to the casting of their votes in this place. To suggest that he tabled these papers without comment is, of course, the height of absurdity. It is also a very simple illustration of the sort of standards which we have come to expect of Senator Walsh in this place.

This is at least the third occasion on which-and I find the use of the words ' the honourable Minister' rather repugnant-Senator Walsh has tried to use the Moll question for his own political reasons. He started by smearing Senator Noel Crichton-Browne about the matter. He then set out to smear me about the matter and now he has sought to cast doubts on senators and the votes that they have cast in regard to taxation legislation. He refused when questioned today to come clean. He has refused to answer questions. Instead he has indulged in his smart- Alick blocking which impresses nobody. This matter is not to be written off as insignificant. That has been very simply demonstrated today by the answer which the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Button, gave during Question Time. Senator Button was asked whether he was able to absolve people who might have been referred to in that material from any suggestion of impropriety or wrongdoing. He was unable to do so. I suppose that the Leader of the Government, the smear having been made, cannot negate the matter. How can he establish the truth in a way which enables him to come forward and say: 'These people are all innocent.' Even the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) is unable to give a clean bill of health in relation to his Director of Public Prosecutions in response to a question from Senator Walters during Question Time today.

So the muck which is thrown by Senator Walsh is thrown wide. It rests on those on whom it is thrown and nobody on the Government side is able to give any absolution. Senator Evans today read a message from Mr Justice Murphy about the innocence of his wife. We are reduced to people having to ask the Attorney- General to read out messages of innocence in this place because of the antics of Senator Walsh. As I said during Question Time, we regard it as entirely proper that Senator Evans should be allowed to say what he has said because now a wider group of people have been caught up in the net which has been thrown by the Minister whom we are seeking to censure today.

Senator Button cannot absolve those of us who, by whatever remote means, have been caught up in this matter, and nor can the Attorney-General. So Senator Walsh has now cast a nice smelly cloud over the Director of Public Prosecutions, Senator Crichton-Browne, Mrs Murphy and Mr Ditchburn, who now appears in the Age account this morning and, of course, over me too. I would like to refer in some detail to what has been put down by Senator Walsh, and say that it does, in an inexcusable way, go beyond the limits of what are the normal and often vigorous, tough and unpleasant clashes which occurs in this place.

But let me just talk about the hypocrisy and cant which infects this argument by reminding honourable senators that it was Senator Walsh who drew attention to the fact that I had been a member of the law firm which acted for Moll, this central villain that we are all associated with, and that meant in some way that I am involved in tax evasion. Of course I have made it clear that I have not been involved in tax evasion in any way. But Senator Walsh has made the accusation. It has appeared in newspapers as having been said in this place, and the cloud hangs over; not very pleasant. Subsequent to that, by an extraordinary act, the Government has appointed my partner and friend, Temby, to be the Director of Public Prosecutions. It seems to me to be quite extraordinary that, if a Minister of this Government is entitled to say that people who are associated with a law firm are under some cloud, it can subsequently appoint a member of that same firm to such a delicate position, one of the key roles of which is the chasing of people who might have offended in this area of tax evasion and so on. It is absolutely absurd, and I merely quote it to show that it is illustrative of the nonsense that this Minister gets up to. I would like to know whether the Government adopts his sleazy tactics. Of course, the Government willingly accepts the benefits of his sleazy tactics, but do any other Ministers or back bench members of this Government endorse and adopt his sleazy tactics? I know they are prepared to have his advantages, but do they adopt his sleazy tactics? Perhaps we will find out in this debate today.

I bring this matter forward and regret that I have in any sense been personally caught up by Senator Walsh's efforts. But I quote that as a very good example of just how Alice in Wonderland this Minister's approach to these matters is.

Government senators interjecting-

The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask the Senate to come to order. The motion which has been moved is a very serious one. I ask that the Leader of the Opposition be heard. I call Senator Chaney.

Senator CHANEY —I concede that many hard things are said in this place on both sides of the chamber. I would now like to explain why, in the view of the Opposition, this Minister has, on any judgment, transgressed the lines which can be regarded as proper and acceptable. I will do that by referring to the material which has actually been tabled in this place by the Minister. He tabled , not for the first time with respect to some of the material-some of it is novel to us but some of it he has tabled before in his earlier forays-a series of cheques drawn on the National Bank of Australasia Ltd by a company called Mobitt (Western Australia) Pty Ltd, which he tells us is a Moll company. He tabled photocopies of the front of the cheques, photocopies of three of the cheque butts and photocopies of what purports to be the back of the two of the three cheque butts. It is quite clear why we have been given two of the three rears of the cheque butts because the two which he has tabled mention people that he can use in his smear campaign. One of the rear of the cheque butts that he has tabled mentions the firm Northmore Hale Davy and Leake, and has the words 'donation Liberal Party' on it.

We all know that that is Senator Walsh's way of wrapping it up-by saying: ' There you are, there are these people, including Senator Chaney over there, but particularly the Liberal Party in Western Australia, all rolled up in this terrible Moll business.'. We find that he has given us the back of another cheque butt which identifies 'MVQ' which has been identified in earlier debates as Mr Quartermaine. It refers to 'donation Liberal Party for Crichton-Browne'. It is quite obvious why that bit of material has been included.

But the funny thing is that he has omitted one of the backs of those cheque butts. Only this morning the Age newspaper has told the Australian people what it was that was omitted by Senator Walsh. What was omitted by Senator Walsh was a number of similar bits of writing. They appear in today's Age. There is a facsimile of what has been omitted by him. We find that what has been omitted are the words 'diamond purchases Mrs L. Murphy $7,800' Next is an indecipherable name against the figure $4,000. There are also references to Ethiopian Airlines. Of course, there are very good reasons why Senator Walsh would not want Ethiopian Airlines brought into this. There are very good, immediate and direct political reasons why Senator Walsh would not want Ethiopian Airlines mentioned. We heard a bit more of Senator Walsh's sophistry here this morning. He said that there are lots of L. Murphys. He probably went out and looked in the Sydney telephone directory and found that there are lots of L. Murphys, with lots in Melbourne and lots all around Australia. But the fact is that he knows that there are connections between the name Murphy and Ethiopian Airlines. The names Ditchburn and Morosi come up. All of those names are ones which have been in the public arena many times. Of course, there are connections which are embarrassing and awkward for the Labor Party in all that.

What this Minister has done is come into this chamber and put down documents which he thinks can give rise to inferences and implications against members of this Opposition, against members of the Liberal Party of Australia. He has carefully omitted one of the same series of documents which might be used to give rise to similar inferences and imputations against people who are connected with the Australian Labor Party. There could be no clearer attempt to mislead this place by omission than that.

We heard the Minister-he was given several opportunities today to declare himself-as usual obfuscating, refusing to get to the point and refusing to clarify the position. The Senate has been used by this Minister. It has been abused by this Minister. It has been ill used by this Minister. He has brought his dirty habits into this place and on this occasion he has caught himself out because the newspapers have published the omissions.

It is time that the Senate recorded its view of this man. In his time here he has done more to reduce the value of this place as one of the useful legislative chambers in Australia than anyone else I can think of. He has practised vilification and abuse in a despicable way. I think it is time that the Senate gave its expression of opinion and censured him for this latest example of his escapades. There is a strong view abroad that, if one believes in the value of elected democracies, this place is one of the few places which remain where legislative values still are alive and well. I believe that if we are to maintain the advances in this place which have made the Senate a useful contribution to democracy and to government in Australia, we have to get rid of the sort of influence which Senator Walsh is bringing to this place. I believe that this vote is one step in that direction. I have very firm views that we should speedily carry this motion to express to Senator Walsh our contempt for the way that he has behaved in this place.