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Thursday, 4 December 1986
Page: 3383

Senator PUPLICK(3.41) —The unenthusiastic defence that the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce, Senator Button, mounted of the appointment of Neville Wran as Chairman of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation was notable for one thing and one thing only: Even Senator Button could not bring himself to say the words `Neville Wran is an honest man'. Even Senator Button could not bring himself to choke up a single word about the probity, the integrity or the personal value of Neville Wran; not one single word could he bring forth on that particular subject. In terms of the extent to which he criticises a motion--

Senator Morris —Take your hands out of your pockets.

Senator PUPLICK —I do not need assistance from the honourable senator. If he would like to answer Senator Michael Baume's questions about exactly who is paying him what on retainer, let him get up and do so-I challenge him; then we will know who, in fact, he is beholden to in this chamber and elsewhere.

Senator Button was at some pains to try to say: `Oh, the Australian Labor Party would never be associated with attacks of this character on individuals'. Yet we hear without fail, day after day, week after week, remarks from the Minister for Finance (Senator Walsh) and his colleagues about Sir Garfield Barwick. We have heard from the Labor Party attacks on Mr John Reid and all the rest of them. At the end of the day what does Senator Button say? He says: `We have had nothing this week except attacks on the Treasurer for technical breaches of the tax Act'. They were technical breaches of the Income Tax Assessment Act and I am glad the Minister for Industry, Technology and Commerce acknowledges that fact. I am simply heartened by the fact that it was technical breaches of the tax Act that got Al Capone in the end and undoubtedly will get Paul Keating on the way through too. The speech Senator Button quoted from Macbeth about sound and fury is the speech that begins with the words `Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow'. Let me forewarn Senator Button that tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow he will be hearing about the appointment that his Government has just made. The motion moved by Senator Peter Baume is in these terms:

The unfitness of Mr Neville Wran for appointment to high federal office because of his protection of corruption and because of tainted appointments made while he was Minister for Police, Premier of New South Wales, and Federal President of the Australian Labor Party.

Let us look at the first part of that motion where it says `protection of corruption'. Every person in New South Wales who has sought to expose or to fight crime and corruption in New South Wales has had to run the gauntlet of Neville Wran, has had to run the gauntlet of frustration, abuse, intimidation and cover-up, failure to respond to the recommendations of the Lusher report on the New South Wales Police Force and attacks on it; personal abuse of Ian Temby, the Director of Public Prosecutions; personal abuse of Frank Costigan, the Royal Commissioner; personal abuse on Athol Moffitt, the retired judge; personal attacks on Clarrie Briese, one of the most honest people to occupy any magisterial position in New South Wales; attacks on Bob Bottom, the crime fighter who has to live in Melbourne in order to protect his safety; attacks on every article that has ever appeared in the National Times, every one of which has been substantiated; attacks on George Masterman, QC, the New South Wales Ombudsman; attacks on all of the honest policemen who tried to expose the cover-up that was inherent in the Age tapes; and comments reported today of the New South Wales Police Board.

Just look at the last two of those-the attempt to find the truth about crime and corruption in New South Wales with the Age tapes. What did we see in the Sydney Morning Herald a couple of months ago? We saw the headline: `Avery: Wran to blame in cover-up'. The article states:

The NSW Police Commissioner, Mr Avery, has privately blamed the former Premier, Mr Wran, for the police cover-up which followed publication of the Age tapes.

In a letter to Mr Masterman, the New South Wales Ombudsman, the Police Commissioner said:

Regrettably, any hope that the police might make full account of their actions without immunities being required were dashed when the former Premier N. K. Wran, made public that he wanted the police involved to be jailed.

Today, the report is down from the New South Wales Police Board, headed by a former Commonwealth Solicitor-General. It makes the point that the Police Board in New South Wales has been unable to get to the issues of crime and corruption inside the New South Wales Police Force because despite its repeated attempts to get the necessary power for the Police Board when Neville Wran was the Premier of New South Wales and before that, when he was Minister for Police in New South Wales, he refused to invest the Police Board with sufficient power, sufficient authority and sufficient responsibility to get on with the task of cleaning up corruption in the New South Wales Police Force. So, within a couple of months, the New South Wales Police Commissioner is making complaints about Mr Wran's frustration of his attempts to clean up New South Wales. The Police Board yesterday and today was reported in the newspapers as making exactly the same points. As I have said, every attempt made by Lusher, by Temby, by Costigan, by Moffitt, by Briese, by Bottom, by the National Times, by Masterman, by the Police Commissioner and by the Police Board to do something about this situation finds itself frustrated on the rock of Neville Wran's obstruction.

I now come to the throwaway comment of the Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Haines. When Senator Haines was Deputy to Senator Chipp, Senator Chipp at least established in this chamber a real and genuine concern about the issues of public corruption and about political corruption. It is no wonder that, in the few weeks that Senator Haines has had the leadership of the Australian Democrats, as a party it is falling apart, its Deputy Leader is now sitting on the other side of the chamber out of frustration at the inadequate leadership of Senator Haines and another leadership ballot is under way. The branch in the Australian Capital Territory is falling apart.

Senator Robert Ray —I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy President. I think Senator Puplick is now straying from the subject of the urgency debate. He is entitled to question the credibility of the previous speaker by reference to certain matters, but to go into a long and detailed analysis of the rather tragic internal difficulties of the Democrats is a bit beyond the pale.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Puplick is entitled to reply to the remarks made by Senator Haines for a reasonable time.

Senator PUPLICK —I take the analysis that Senator Robert Ray has made of the Australian Democrats as entirely correct. Seeing that he has reinforced the point so eloquently I will move on to Murray Farquhar. The second part of the motion which is for debate is the issue of tainted appointments made by Mr Wran when he was the Premier of New South Wales. It is of some considerable interest that one of the most important of these appointments involved the former Chief Stipendiary Magistrate, Mr Farquhar. Let us remind ourselves of the two things that Neville Wran did particularly for Murray Farquhar. The first was that he extended his term office for sufficient length of time to allow Mr Farquhar to sit on the bench to hear the Cessna-Milner case.

Senator Michael Baume —Over the Minister's dead body.

Senator PUPLICK —And over all of the protestations made by the Minister and the Society of Labor Lawyers which opposed and tried to get a meeting with Mr Wran to protest about this matter and was told by Mr Wran that he did not have the time to see its members, listen to them or hear what they had to say.

The second thing he did for Farquhar, of course, was to appoint him as the head of the Alcohol and Drug Foundation of Australia. At the very time when there was supposed to be a crackdown on drugs, drug abuse and drug related corruption in New South Wales, Murray Farquhar was made head of that body. The pay-off that Farquhar was getting for having dealt with the Brereton Botany scandal case in the way in which he did was a matter of some notoriety.

The second appointment that is worth mentioning is that of Mr Wood, who was appointed Commissioner of Police despite the attempts of certain sections, both of the police and of Neville Wran's own Cabinet, to have an honest man appointed to that position. However, Neville Wran insisted on having Mr Wood-the very person who would not close down the illegal casinos in New South Wales because he did not want to throw people out of work-appointed Commissioner of Police. Mr Wood was defended by Premier Wran for publicly associating with criminals because the Premier said, basically, that he thought that police commissioners ought to know those sorts of people and to keep in touch with them.

The third appointment that is worth drawing attention to is that of the Deputy Police Commissioner, Mr Bill Allen, who was appointed out of absolute obscurity to the significant position of Deputy Commissioner, who was later investigated by the police tribunal and was found by Mr Justice Perignon to be a person of no repute, a person who should not be holding that high office. He was dragged out of obscurity by Neville Wran and promoted to that particularly high position. As Senator Peter Baume has said, the unanswered questions about the Bill Allen connection with the Waterhouses and the central role which they play in this whole business reminds one, for instance, of Neville Wran's close personal involvement with the Waterhouse family when Peter Huxley was on trial. Huxley was convicted and sentenced to 20 years for embezzling the funds of little people in New South Wales, a sort of early version of Rick Mochalski. He was brought to trial and sentenced. What happened to that 20-year sentence? It was commuted by the Wran Cabinet in a way that got Huxley out of goal and allowed him to go to the United Kingdom. Some $1.8m is still missing and his sentence was commuted, so he served an even lesser time in goal than the judge had originally established as a non-parole period attached to the 20-year sentence.

Finally, we come to Mr Grassby. As Senator Peter Baume has said, he was appointed by the Federal Australian Labor Party to high public office and he was appointed by Neville Wran to high office in the State of New South Wales. In the report of Mr Nagle, formerly Mr Justice Nagle, who headed the New South Wales Commission of Inquiry into the Police Investigation of the Death of Donald Bruce Mackay, Mr Grassby was described in the most appalling terms as a dishonest and disreputable witness. The end of the judgment stated:

The Commission-

that is Nagle-

makes only one comment-that no decent man could have regarded the general attacks on the Calabrians as justifying him in propagating the scurrilous lies contained in the anonymous document.

Mr Grassby peddled a document-he tried to get it read in the Parliament of New South Wales-which accused Don Mackay's widow and son of being responsible for Don Mackay's murder. These are the sorts of people with whom the former Premier of New South Wales wants to associate himself. This comes at a time when for the chairmanship of the CSIRO-succeeding such eminent scientists and citizens as George Julius, Albert David Rivett, Ian Clunies-Ross, Frederick White, James Price, Victor Burgmann, Paul Wild and Keith Boardman-we now get this tainted and disreputable public figure, one in whose personal defence Senator Button could not bring himself to speak.

Finally, I look at the record of the whole of the Wran times. I am talking about the politicians, the Breretons, the Jacksons, the Mochalskis, the Slosses, the Degens, the Johnstones; about the Pavilion in the Park luncheons; about the Enmore conspiracy case; about the Baldwin bashing; about the judiciary-Foord and Farquhar; about the attacks on Briese; about Morgan Ryan; about judge shopping and plea bargaining. I am looking at the police and talking about Bill Allen, Merv Wood, Fred Hanson, Murray Riley and Bill Duff; I am talking about others around the place. I am talking about the Mackay cover-up; about Grassby; about Waterhouse; about the attacks on Temby, Costigan and Moffitt; about the Anderson situation; about Nugan Hand; and about Maxwell Newton's allegations.

All one can say at the end of this list is that it is fortunate for the people of Australia that Neville Wran has not been appointed to any position which is connected with the administration of justice or the law at a Federal level because that would be as corrupt, as tainted and as blighted as the law and justice were in New South Wales under the premiership of Neville Wran, who is not fit to hold any public office ever again, anywhere in Australia, and who will stand as a monument to the low and declining standards that this Government has permanently established, and continues to establish, in the minds of the people of Australia.