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Monday, 30 May 1994
Page: 822

Senator CHAPMAN —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Justice. Is it a fact that the Australian Federal Police received a briefing from Queensland authorities that restaurateur Nicholas Cassar Karlos, owner of the Fisherman's Cove restaurant in New South Wales, was a principal target suspected of money laundering on the Gold Coast and was identified as having a key role in the prostitution scandal involving former Senator Graham Richardson? Despite that fact, did the AFP fail to proceed with an investigation into this associate of the former senator? If so, was this failure a result of any directions or representations from the federal government? If not, will the minister immediately urge the Australian Federal Police to pursue this matter?

Senator BOLKUS —I went to a community function in Melbourne on Saturday night and afterwards I turned on the television and saw the late news on Channel 10. Much to my displeasure, I saw Senator Chapman parading in his Adelaide office with what seemed to be an exclusive to Mr Mike Smith from Channel 10—

Senator Alston —What has this to do with the price of fish?

Senator BOLKUS —I am going to answer the question.

Senator Hill —Mr President, I raise a point of order. On a question of relevance, can I invite—

  Senator Gareth Evans interjecting

Senator Hill —What has it got to do with him attending a community meeting in Melbourne and seeing Chapman on the television? There is no relevance at all.

  Senator Faulkner interjecting

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Faulkner and Senator Evans, that is no help. Senator Hill, I ask you to keep to the point and make your point of order.

Senator Hill —I am being distracted. Can I invite you, Mr President, to remind the minister that it is his responsibility to answer the question asked, and simply that.

The PRESIDENT —It is a bit early to tell just how the minister is developing the answer but I would ask him, as soon as possible, to get to the answer.

Senator BOLKUS —As I said, I saw Senator Chapman on television on an exclusive to Channel 10 with what he paraded to be a series of documents and he heralded that he would be raising them in the Senate, I presume today. And this is the end result of what he told Channel 10 he would be coming up with. We have answered these questions. We have answered these questions in terms of AFP involvement. We have answered them in terms of NCA involvement as well. That was all done last time.

  I repeat the point I have made numerous times: there is no joint investigation. I am further advised that the AFP has not provided assistance or information to the CJC regarding these allegations which go to state criminal offences. There is a Queensland CJC inquiry. The CJC, I understand, is also bound by secrecy provisions, although someone it would seem, if Senator Chapman's assertions are right, is ignoring such provisions. Senator Chapman has come in here today, made allegations and found someone to be guilty of a charge that he himself has laid. This is kangaroo court at its worse.

Senator Alston —Mr President, I rise on a point of order. This whole answer proceeds on the basis that this question has previously been asked, and it has not. This question specifically invites the minister to indicate whether the Federal Police have been briefed and whether they have failed to proceed with an investigation.

Senator McMullan —What is the point of order?

Senator Alston —The point of order is that the answer that Senator Bolkus is giving is to a question he imagines was asked weeks ago. This is a new question. He is therefore not being relevant, and you ought to bring him to order, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT —There is no point of order. I believe the minister is answering the question, and there will be a chance to raise these things in a supplementary question.

Senator BOLKUS —The point I am making is that not only is this an old point but it is also one on which we have already had an answer from the AFP. The AFP has not provided assistance or information and, as far as I am informed, is not investigating anything. I must also stress this particular point: as far as I know—and I have only just been briefed about this—there is absolutely no political interference with respect to anything that the AFP might in fact be doing. This government is not into that—neither should it be.

  The point I was about to make was that the item involving Senator Chapman the other night was preceded by another item where the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Downer, accused the government of being in the gutter. We are not in the gutter. You have a mortgage on it. You have a mortgage on all the gutters in this country when you come up with these sorts of assertions in question time. Where is the new approach? Mr Downer can pull back former Senator Bishop for her statements. Why does he not do that to you? Because he is hypocritical. If he meant what he said in terms of no more gutter politics—

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Bolkus, address your comments to the chair.

Senator BOLKUS —If Mr Downer, the new leader, meant what he said about no more gutter politics, the first thing he would be doing is telling his friend and colleague from South Australia—someone with whom he probably watched the Adelaide Crows last night; someone with whom he probably travelled to Canberra last night—`Don't get into this gutter.' What we are seeing here today is not just sewage. It is non-biodegradable sewage, and those opposite all ought to be ashamed of themselves. It reflects on their new leadership. The Prime Minister was right: the opposition has changed the jockey but the horse is still rotten.

Senator CHAPMAN —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Given that the minister is either unable or unwilling to answer the first question I asked, which did not relate in any way to the earlier questions because it related to a matter of a briefing, I further ask: is the minister aware that, because of the failure of the Australian Federal Police to investigate the matters involving former Senator Graham Richardson, Queensland authorities have now had to seek assistance from the FBI in the United States to investigate international drug connections involving criminal figures on the Gold Coast and New South Wales crime boss Leonard McPherson?

Senator BOLKUS —This really has to stop somewhere because what we are seeing here today is guilt being determined about people by a backbencher of the Liberal Party. Senator Hill might shake his head. It is not the sort of question he would ask but he ought to show some leadership and pull back Senator Chapman. What I also said last time is just as pertinent now.

Senator Chapman —You are very worried, Nick.

Senator BOLKUS —I am not at all worried and I will tell Senator Chapman why I am not worried: it is because I know where his information is coming from. Senator Chapman, from Adelaide, is raising these points in this place. It is no wonder it is coming through Senator Chapman because he has, as I said last time, a staff member who was chased out of South Australia, chased out of journalism in South Australia. The sources of these allegations are a disgraceful—

Senator Hill —Mr President, I rise on a point of order. Apart from Senator Bolkus's remarks being highly offensive, if he knew from whom the information was coming, he would know the police reports which contain the information. The point is that his answer is irrelevant to the question that was asked. The question asked why police authorities in Queensland had to seek help from United States authorities because of the AFP apparently not cooperating in the investigation. Surely that is a legitimate question to be asked and is deserving of an answer.

The PRESIDENT —On the first part of your point of order, which is not a point of order, I would hate to be judging things on the offensiveness or otherwise of comments and judging between one side and the other. I think he is developing his answer. I have got no way of judging whether it is relevant or not.

Senator BOLKUS —The AFP has not provided assistance or information. My understanding is that it has not been asked for it. That is the direct answer to the honourable senator's question. But it does not deny the fact that the person who is the source of the honourable senator's information on his staff was convicted of contempt of court in proceedings in South Australia and was found by his own—

  Opposition senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT —Order! The minister's time has expired.

Senator Alston —Mr President, I raise a point of order. It is simply not good enough for you to say that the minister's time has expired when you know that he has blatantly not only ignored the question but is using the cover of parliamentary privilege to trot out matters that are utterly irrelevant to the question asked. You ought to have the courage to point that out to him and not hide behind the expiration of time.

The PRESIDENT —I have made my rulings on the relevance of the question, and the minister's time has expired.