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Wednesday, 4 May 1994
Page: 195

Senator PARER —My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer Senator Evans to a report in today's Australian that one of the nation's most powerful Labor Party figures has accepted on a regular basis the services of a prostitute on the Gold Coast paid for by organised crime. Is or was the senior Labor figure a minister in the Hawke or Keating Labor governments? Can the minister assure the Senate that the government will make all necessary inquiries into this matter in order to give a public assurance that no decision or action of the Labor government was compromised by any such involvement with organised crime? Is the federal Labor government cooperating with the Queensland State Crime Operations Command and the Criminal Justice Commission on this matter?

Senator GARETH EVANS —That is a question worthy of Senator Baume, I think, with your head down there in the bottom of the muck barrel, hoping to get some political return from what at the moment is no better than a newspaper report. I am not in a position to comment on the truth or otherwise of the allegations set out in the newspaper article to which Senator Parer refers. They are allegations about offences that fall squarely within the operational purview of that state's Criminal Justice Commission. There is no suggestion that has been made there or anywhere else that I am aware of that any of the allegations in question relate to offences against Commonwealth law.

  If any state law enforcement agency seeks any assistance from Commonwealth agencies, the decision to provide that assistance is, of course, an operational one for the agency concerned. It is not one in which the government would properly be involved. I, for one, do not propose to involve myself or anyone else in the government in chasing up stories and scuttlebutt of that kind. Let the state criminal investigation authority, the Criminal Justice Commission, investigate it to its heart's content. If there is any substance in it, then no doubt further consequences will follow. Certainly it is not appropriate to respond in any way to reports of this kind at this time.

Senator PARER —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. As the Federal Police and the National Crime Authority are stated to be involved in this investigation into major organised crime, is the minister saying that he has no knowledge of this matter and does not know who the person involved is?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I am saying exactly that.