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Thursday, 28 March 1985
Page: 937

Senator PETER BAUME(10.44) —Senator Bolkus merely said in his point of order that Senator Rae was sitting in the gallery. It is for Hansard to interpret which Senator Rae that may be.

Senator Bolkus —Mr Acting Deputy President, I raise a point of order. It refers to the point made by Senator Peter Baume, I think it was made very clear that it was Senator Peter Rae who was in the gallery.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Elstob) —There is no point of order.

Senator PETER BAUME —The Senate is debating an Address-in-Reply to the speech by the Governor-General which was moved and seconded by Senator Aulich and Senator Cooney and an amendment thereto moved by my Leader, Senator Chaney. This debate has been the occasion for a number of maiden speeches by honourable senators. I congratulate the mover and seconder of the motion for the Address-in-Reply and other honourable senators who have made maiden speeches. I think the last two were Senator Vanstone from South Australia and Senator Black. I congratulate both of them on their first contribution. I have enjoyed all the maiden speeches, some for their content and some for their entertainment value. I have enjoyed some more than others. I say to all the new senators that I wish them well. I wish them a productive service in the Senate. I am sure that their presence here will improve the standard of debate in the chamber. They are very welcome.

The ambit of this Address-in-Reply debate is very wide. Honourable senators are able to address matters on a very broad range of subjects. I do have a number of interests relating to policy and the development of policy. There are things I would like to say about the development of education in Australia in the future and about my other shadow portfolio interest, that is, matters relating to the status of women and to the views of the Liberal Party of Australia in this area. I will do so at some stage in the future. I have decided to address my contribution to the Address-in-Reply debate to the question of corruption in public life, particularly corruption in my State of New South Wales. I do it because of the importance of this subject and because of the despair which is felt by many citizens of New South Wales about what is going on in our State and about the reluctance of the Government of that State to face the issues which corruption in New South Wales have thrown up.

This year will see two judges-one of them a former Australian Labor Party Attorney-General-a former State Labor Minister and a policeman of high rank all in the courts. A former Chief Magistrate of New South Wales has already been convicted and is already in prison, having begun his term, on a charge of conspiring to pervert the course of justice. The judges are charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice. The Minister is charged with selling ministerial favours. The policeman is charged with trying to bribe a fellow officer. Never before in Australia have we had a circumstance in which a magistrate has alleged that a judge attempted to influence his conduct of a court case. These matters go to the heart of our system of government, to the administration of justice and to the kind of society in which we live. They are serious matters.

Senator Grimes —I hope you are going to talk about Sir Robert Askin.

Senator PETER BAUME —Senator Grimes mentions the name of Sir Robert Askin. Let me make it clear: My concern about corruption is genuine and wide-ranging. If Senator Grimes has occasion to say 'But there was someone now dead who was corrupt', then so be it. I am not going to try to defend anyone who is corrupt. I make it quite clear to Senator Grimes that my concern is for corruption wherever it falls. At the moment it is the Australian Labor Party that has a problem and I hope that Senator Grimes will be as generous as I have just been. I am not going to try to defend anyone, whether it is a former Party colleague or anyone else. If I find anyone in my Party or if I get any evidence that anyone in my Party is corrupt, I would want to deal with that person properly and to deal with that person effectively.

Senator Aulich —That's a laugh.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Elstob) —Order! I think the honourable senator should withdraw that statement.

Senator Aulich —Why?

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! I ask that the statement be withdrawn.

Senator Aulich —I withdraw.

Senator PETER BAUME —More disturbing than just these events has been the lack of enthusiasm shown by the New South Wales Labor Government and the Federal Labor Government in pursuing evidence of organised crime even when it was presented to them and their reluctance to pursue links in the upper echelons of our society between what has been going on and their Government. Both of these governments had to be dragged kicking and screaming by public opinion to take action eventually against the prominent people now in the courts. Almost all of these prominent people were closely associated at some stage with the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labor Party. I want to make it quite clear that the people I mention-I will not mention them by name; the judges and the former Minister-are all still awaiting trial. They are all still innocent men and they remain so until the courts should decide otherwise. It is not my intention to canvass the details of their particular cases. I do not want to canvass their guilt or innocence. I do not know whether they are guilty. What I am concerned about doing is examining the events which have occurred and the reluctance of Labor governments to act upon information when it was available. My concerns are directed to inaction and improper action by Labor governments, by Labor Ministers seeking to cover up the events when they were revealed. Put as mildly as possible, the New South Wales and Federal Governments have shown a marked lack of enthusiasm in their pursuit of these matters even after they came to public light. There is no greater failure of public duty that I know.

Innocent or guilty, the people I have mentioned who are before the courts were all eventually found by prosecuting authorities to have a case to answer. Yet through long and bitter months the Labor governments in New South Wales and Canberra 'cleared' them. The Labor governments condemned the Press, they condemned the Opposition for pursuing them and they manoeuvred to delay or avoid holding investigations into the allegations against them. Yet the prosecuting authorities have now found that each of them has a case to answer. This may be shrugged off as tough politics in a tough world but for the legacy those months have left behind. We have seen governments hacking away at the ground beneath the feet of those calling for the investigation of allegations rather than have those governments working energetically to examine the allegations. What has happened is an attack upon the public. We have seen an attack upon the Press and we have seen an attack upon the traditional principles of public duty, liberty and law.

The evidence of public corruption in New South Wales has become available over some 10 years or more. I take the Senate back to my friend Donald Mackay. This man was a Liberal candidate for parliament, not once but several times. I had the pleasure of campaigning with him. His children babysat my children in a motel in Griffith. My family was close to the Mackay family. He was murdered by drug interests who were operating, obviously with police connivance, in the Griffith area, and the Government ran dead for almost 10 years. It was only in 1984, I believe, that a coronial inquiry into his death was finally held. That does not give us great cause for confidence. In 1973 the Askin Government, pressed at the time by the Labor Party, established the Moffitt Royal Commission on Alleged Organised Crime in Registered Clubs in New South Wales. I will come back to the Moffitt Royal Commission a little later. During the next two years Mr Wran, then Opposition Leader, complained in Parliament that illegal police phone tappings were probably occurring in New South Wales Mr Wran said that in 1973. He revealed them. He discussed them. He condemned them in Opposition. Later, as Police Minister, he did nothing to stop what he had earlier condemned. As Premier, he expressed surprise when evidence from these taps emerged later. Yet he had known in 1973-74 that it was occurring. He had sufficient concern to raise it in the Parliament of New South Wales. However, when he became the Minister for Police he did nothing about it. He forgot about it, or else he proved incapable of taking effective action as Minister. As far back as 1974 Mr Rex Jackson, who was later a Labor Minister, accused the then Attorney-General of being corrupt and of protecting a poker machine operator from prosecution.

So we have a Labor Party that, in opposition, was quite active in pressing matters of corruption and demanding that they be fixed. Since that time there has been a series of royal commissions and other events in New South Wales. What do they show us? The Moffitt Royal Commission showed quite clearly links between the Australian Labor Party and crime in clubs. The Woodward Royal Commission into Drug Trafficking, at the end of the decade, showed links between the Labor Party and drug trafficking, the use of council fronts, including the Leichhardt Council, the role of Danny Casey and Wings Travel--

Senator Puplick —And Balmain Welding.

Senator PETER BAUME —And Balmain Welding Company. We have had reports from the Stewart Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drug Trafficking which have revealed Labor Party links with the Nugan Hand Bank. They were not of an illegal nature. I will mention them later. The Labor Party clearly used its good offices. The good offices of Mr Leo McLeay, Senator Richardson and Senator Sibraa were mentioned. They were detailed in the report of the Stewart Commission which came down recently.

Senator Aulich —And they were cleared.

Senator PETER BAUME —We might say something about them.

Senator Aulich —You are a bucket tipper.

Senator PETER BAUME —We might say something about them a bit later. We then had the Age tapes which revealed Labor Party links which have led to former senior Labor Party figures being before the courts now. We have had Department of Consumer Affairs reports in New South Wales which have shown Labor Party links with the Nugan Hand bank. I refer honourable senators to one of the paragraphs in the Stewart report, if they wish to see it. A fearless Press, especially the National Times and the Fairfax Press, has made sure that these events have been revealed and set out for public view. We have had Opposition probing, led first by John Dowd in New South Wales. No one believed John Dowd. He was laughed out of office when he kept claiming evidence of corruption. However, the things John Dowd raised in New South Wales have, one after another, been shown to have substance and sufficient content to the extent that we now see many of the people about whom he spoke either publicly disgraced on the basis of other evidence or facing prosecution on various matters. We had the Australian Senate forcing the Government to take action which it was otherwise not going to take. The investigations which have been forced on these reluctant governments have shown that present and former Labor Ministers have cases to answer, that there are Labor links to groups such as Nugan Hand and that Labor mates have found themselves in trouble.

Senator Puplick —Little mates.

Senator PETER BAUME —'Little mates', my colleague says. We learn further that Labor governments with the capacity to investigate have been unwilling to do what was required to clean up the situation until forced to do so by public opinion. We found a Labor Government in New South Wales actually proposing to give its former Minister, Rex Jackson, unlimited legal aid until public outrage forced an end to that Labor rort. We now have a Federal Government-I applaud it-which looks like making a better decision than it originally indicated to try to do something to provide a capacity for certain policemen to reveal and to extend some of the further evidence they have had of wrong doing.

Senator Missen —We will have to wait to see that.

Senator PETER BAUME —I understand that events this morning make things more uncertain. However, I urge the Government, in pursuing corruption, to take the bold step and to realise that one has to pursue the criminals as well as having concern about the illegal telephone taps. It always makes me amused that one is quite prepared to give indemnity to certain criminals-Senator Chipp has mentioned Mr Fulcher on occasions-because that could lead to other prosecutions, but there seems to be considerable reluctance to extend the same privilege to some of the police.

Each scandal has been enough to shake public confidence. Take them together and the pattern is one of institutionalised corruption in New South Wales reaching into the Labor Party and into the Labor Government. Each scandal is serious, but the pattern is astounding and astonishing. Some of the events might just be worth setting down. First there were charges against two businessmen, Mr Ainsworth and Mr Vibert, laid in 1981. The charges were that at least $70,000 had been paid by them to political parties and politicians to gain a poker machine monopoly. They are very serious charges. The police investigation into this matter was torrid. One of the investigating police later prepared a memorandum alleging that a senior Labor Cabinet Minister in New South Wales, the senior police and a businessman had all tried to interfere with the proper investigation of corrupt activity. The complaint by that policeman is presently before the police internal investigation unit. Were those charges proceeded with? They were not. Although the men were committed for trial, the charges were dropped on the recommendation of the late Labor Attorney-General in New South Wales, Mr Paul Landa.

We have had the scandal, too, of some of the Labor controlled councils. We had the Peter Baldwin bashing which really shocked the people of New South Wales when they came to the realisation that political differences were settled in that kind of way. We had the bashings and concerns in Marrickville Council. We have had the Nugan Hand connections. There was the Botany Council case. I simply set down the facts surrounding that matter. Early in 1975 Mr Laurie Brereton, Labor member for the Botany area, and Mr Geoff Cahill, who was then secretary of the ALP in New South Wales, were charged with attempting to bribe four Botany Council aldermen in an attempt to have a zoning decision changed. The building involved, in fact, was owned by News Ltd. One of the things that have been revealed in the Press is that, had that case gone forward, although Mr Neville Wran was not implicated in any way, he would have been required to give evidence as he had been present at one of the relevant meetings. The New South Wales Chief Magistrate at that time, Mr Murray Farquhar, held that there was a prima facie case for Mr Brereton to answer. However, he dismissed the case on a legal technicality. An ex-officio indictment was then laid, but in August 1976, three months after the new Labor Government came to power, the Labor Attorney-General returned a no bill, a nolle prosequi, and no further action has occurred in that case. Mr Brereton never faced trial on the matter and, of course, he is now a senior Minister in New South Wales.

Next, we have the scandals associated with Mr Murray Farquhar and the systematic efforts of the Wran Government to prevent disclosure of these matters, to laugh them off as irrelevant, to divert attention, and to limit the investigations or the actions. I remind honourable senators that in 1977 a magistrate, after pressure from the Chief Magistrate, Murray Farquhar, to pervert the course of justice, discharged Mr Kevin Humphreys, who had been charged with certain matters relating to moneys of one of the leagues clubs in Sydney. Mr Farquhar has now been convicted for that action.

In 1978 or thereabouts Mr Farquhar turned 60, the retiring age. He should have retired at that stage. It was already known at that time that Mr Farquhar was associating with a prominent criminal, Mr George Freeman. He had been photographed with him, and indeed, a new photograph has now been produced in the Parliament of New South Wales. The Labor Government in New South Wales, knowing all these facts and knowing the man had reached the age of 60, decided he should continue in office. There was widespread concern in New South Wales. There were even pleas from the Society of Labor Lawyers that it was not in the interests of the administration of justice for Mr Farquhar to be reappointed.

Senator Chipp —Another name for that group is the lobby for organised crime.

Senator PETER BAUME —I am indebted to Senator Chipp, because the matters are so serious that we need to set them down, and I am trying to do so as calmly as I can. Mr Farquhar was reappointed. The Government knew at the time of matters concerning the association of Mr Freeman and Mr Farquhar, but it did not release that information. Mr Wran went into the Parliament and said that he had information which he would not release. They did not care less about Mr Farquhar's criminal connections. They did reappoint him. Following the Street Royal Commission of Inquiry into Certain Committal Proceedings Against K. E. Humphreys in 1983, Mr Farquhar was charged, tried and convicted of action to pervert the course of justice. He is now disgraced and in prison. His fellow magistrates acted courageously to reveal what they have revealed. Mr Humphreys, who is one of Mr Wran's Balmain boys, was also connected in the matter, and he has now been convicted on the same matter for which he was discharged by Mr Farquhar in 1977.

This still leaves us with the Cessna-Milner case. This was a drug case heard by Mr Murray Farquhar on the last day on which he sat on the bench. It was dealt with by him only because the police had written down the value of the drugs involved so that it fell within Mr Farquhar's jurisdiction. Because of this, Mr Farquhar was able to hear the case, and he gave Mr Cessna a bond-a bond, for serious drug charges. Mr Cessna, of course, was represented in that case by the solicitor Mr Morgan Ryan. A week after the case the then Police Commissioner, Mr Mervyn Wood, admitted that he had discussed with Mr Morgan Ryan what the valuation of the drugs should be.

My God! What kind of society are we living in? Allegations were made that a conspiracy had occurred between Mr Farquhar, Mr Ryan and Police Commissioner Wood to pervert the course of justice. Those claims were made in 1980. At that stage Mr Wran said he would not release any material. There was a report by the police. There were detailed investigations by the New South Wales Police into the allegation that Farquhar, Ryan and Wood had fixed the Cessna case. Mr Wran agreed that he had a report, but he would not say what it was because it might reflect unfairly on those who were named-Farquhar, Ryan and Wood. He shows a fine sense of care. Mr Wran later refused to table the police report or a report by the Solicitor-General. I give the quotation attributed to Mr Wran:

We can only be suspicious that the law was bent by the ex-police commissioner . . . no tracks lead to Farquhar which would demonstrate complicity.

And so it goes on. Just this week Mr Greiner has produced a new photograph, which has been in existence all the time, which shows once again the links between Mr Farquhar and Mr Wran.

We have the Bill Allen affair, which is a matter of history in New South Wales. In 1981 Mr Bill Allen was made Deputy Commissioner of the New South Wales Police Force against the recommendations of the then Police Commissioner, Mr Jim Lees. Two years earlier Mr Allen had been promoted to the position of Chief Superintendent of Sydney, above 16 others, on the personal recommendation of Mr Wran. At the time of his promotion to Deputy Commissioner, the Federal Police were investigating allegations of misconduct against Mr Allen-at that stage. Following disclosures of this in the National Times and following some intense political activity, a tribunal was appointed. The tribunal made findings adverse to Mr Allen. He was demoted, but he was then permitted to retire. This was a senior commissioner appointed personally by Mr Wran-for what purpose I cannot think; it may well have just been a case of appalling judgment, or it may have been part of this network of corrupt and irresponsible activity which characterises New South Wales.

We have had extensive and continuing evidence of police corruption in New South Wales-only a few police; we still have a police force which cares. We have a large number of police who are appalled by what is going on; but a small number in the force have been engaged in systematic, extensive, continuing, uncaring corrupt activity. So bad has it been, so much has a government been refusing to take action or to pursue it, that it has been necessary for certain police to act illegally to produce the evidence and to release that evidence to force the public to take notice of what is going on in New South Wales. While there may be a desire to bring the police to order for what they have done, one also has to pursue the criminals.

I come to the events behind the early release schemes, in which the Government, again and again, kept clearing the Minister concerned of any misconduct, saying there was nothing in the allegations. We know where that ended up when evidence finally came through. I remember that on 11 October-1983, I think-Mr Wran told the New South Wales Parliament:

There is no doubt that the matter has been thoroughly investigated and the Government has decided that no further action will be taken.

I only say that today we see the Minister with whom Mr Wran was clearing it awaiting trial. I could go on, Mr Acting Deputy President. The evidence of corruption is there, right through New South Wales. We had an election called urgently by Mr Wran to get into the people before more of the facts became known.

Crime occurs in New South Wales. It is extensive. Corruption is extensive. It has close and organic links with the Australian Labor Party in New South Wales. We have seen Labor Party governments in New South Wales and Canberra resisting to the utmost its detection, its investigation, or its pursuit. There is no more vital subject to pursue in any society. I am not concerned if evidence emerges to show that someone now dead was corrupt. He also should be condemned, and if he was a member of my Party then, or if in the future we find such a person, I would pursue that person. I want all of it exposed. I want the mask stripped away. Liberals would welcome this. It was our candidate, our friend, who was murdered in Griffith because he opposed crime.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator MacGibbon) —Order! The honourable senator's time has expired.

(Quorum formed)