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Thursday, 9 May 1985
Page: 1649

Senator BOSWELL —I direct a question to the Minister for Finance. In view of the Minister's answers to questions yesterday and today in which he suggested a close relationship between Rothwells Ltd and the Queensland National Party I ask the Minister whether he is aware that Mr R. L. Connell, who is Deputy Chairman of Rothwells and a major shareholder of that company, is also the Vice-President of the John Curtin Foundation of Western Australia, a fund raising foundation very similar to the Bjelke-Petersen Foundation. Is the Minister also aware that Mr Connell is an adviser to the Western Australian Premier? In asking that question I impute no impropriety to Mr Connell or to Rothwells.

Senator WALSH —Yes, I am aware of the fact that Mr Connell is the Chairman of Rothwells Ltd and the John Curtin Foundation. As far as I know, though, he has not used whatever influence he may have on the John Curtin Foundation to deposit all its funds with Rothwells bank, as did Edward Lyons, who used his influence as Chairman of the Totalisator Administration Board of Queensland to deposit if not all, something which must have approached all, of the TAB's funds in Rothwells bank.

Senator Crichton-Browne —Mr Connell is the Deputy Chairman, a major shareholder.

Senator WALSH —I can see that neither Senator Crichton-Browne nor Senator Boswell, or probably anyone associated with the Queensland National Party, would be able to see that there is anything reprehensible about a Chairman of a public authority transferring $28m, which must have been very close to all of the liquid assets of that public authority, to a bank of which he was a director. The concept of conflict of interest is probably beyond the comprehension of either Senator Boswell or Senator Crichton-Browne. Senator Crichton-Browne was the mining warden at Marble Bar when he was a shareholder in a speculative mining company associated with dealing in Poseidon shares.

Senator Chaney —Mr President, I raise a point of order. I have not intervened to this point because the Standing Orders provide no protection for the citizen. Of course the citizen takes what he cops in this place and for that reason I did not intervene to object to anything that was being said. However, I simply point out to Senator Walsh, Mr President, that Senator Crichton-Browne is entitled to the protection of the Standing Orders. Whilst Senator Walsh is free to slander anyone outside this place, he is not free to slander people in this place and he ought to be asked to sit down and shut up.

The PRESIDENT —I have been listening to Senator Walsh. At this stage there is no substance in the point of order, but I remind Senator Walsh that he has been responding rather at length to an interjection by Senator Crichton-Browne. I ask him to return to the question that was directed to him by Senator Boswell and, if possible, to relate his remarks to his ministerial responsibility to this Parliament. I call the Minister.

Senator WALSH —I was reciting some of the historical facts about Senator Crichton-Browne's background. Senator Chaney says that that was slander. That is a judgment which Senator Chaney is entitled to make.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask the Minister to respond to Senator Boswell's question. Question Time is near an end and other honourable senators want to receive the call.

Senator WALSH —Certainly, Mr President. I can well understand why Senator Chaney-whatever his personal views might be as Leader of the Liberal Party in the Senate-would not like to have Senator Crichton-Browne's sort of commercial history repeated in the Senate.

The PRESIDENT —Order! The Minister will withdraw that remark.

Senator Crichton-Browne —Come on, you greasy grub.

The PRESIDENT —Order! The Minister will withdraw.

Senator WALSH —I withdraw, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT —I now ask Senator Crichton-Browne to withdraw his remark.

Senator Crichton-Browne —I withdraw the comment that Senator Walsh is a greasy grub.

The PRESIDENT —I ask the Minister to bring his answer to a conclusion because Question Time is near an end.

Senator WALSH —Certainly, Mr President. The point I was making was that there are standards by which most decent Australians live-if they do not actually live by them they do feel a necessity to pay lip service to them-and there are other standards, such as those which prevail in the Queensland National Party and which were implanted in the Liberal party of Western Australia during the time when Senator Crichton-Browne was its President and the time when his clique took over the Western Australian Branch of the Liberal Party. The people who belong to the Queensland National Party or the Western Australian Liberal Party, of which Senator Crichton-Browne is a member, are probably quite genuinely incapable of seeing the conflict of interest which Sir Edward Lyons--

The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask the Minister to come back to answering Senator Boswell's question. If he does not do so I will have to ask him to resume his seat.

Senator Crichton-Browne —To loud acclamation.

The PRESIDENT —Order! I warn Senator Crichton-Browne. I call the Minister.

Senator WALSH —Mr President, do not throw him out; he is not worth it.

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Walsh, please resume your answer.

Senator WALSH —Sir Edward Lyons was in a conflict of interest situation which I think almost anyone, except members of the Queensland National Party and the Western Australian Liberal Party, would recognise.