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Tuesday, 31 May 1994
Page: 914

Senator O'CHEE —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Justice. In March this year the Australian Federal Police on the Gold Coast told Queensland police that they were unable to provide a surveillance team, which is normally available on request, because the team was busy monitoring a federal politician's dealings with prostitutes. What action has been taken as a result of this surveillance; have any of the women in question been charged; who was the politician involved; and has the information obtained by this surveillance been passed as a separate operation to the CJC or the NCA?

Senator BOLKUS —This is a continuation of the litany of questions raising innuendo and smearing people by way of innuendo. The two smears that are being pursued by the opposition are: firstly, that a Labor personality is being investigated; and, secondly, that there is some interference on behalf of the government in any such investigation. We had those questions yesterday from Senator Chapman and we had them from Senator Boswell. I must say that I find them quite distasteful.

  I was wondering how long it would take Senator O'Chee to come into this because I know some of the contacts through his office through which some of this information may in fact be coming to him. I know that. Let me say with respect to this: not one of these allegations has been raised outside of this place by the opposition. Do honourable senators opposite know why this has not happened? It is because they know it is innuendo, they know it is smear and they know that they will get hit with defamation writs the minute they raise this outside. They know that they have no substance to back their innuendo and their smear.

  I have been consistently asked questions in respect of this. I can once again repeat that I have been advised by the AFP that they—

Senator Kemp —`I have been advised.'

Senator BOLKUS —Hold on. I am not out there checking it myself. Why don't you go and see if you can find out, you bloody goose!

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

Senator Patterson —I take a point of order, Mr President. The minister's comment is totally unacceptable and I ask that you ask him to withdraw it.

The PRESIDENT —I did not hear what the honourable senator said.

Senator BOLKUS —I called Senator Kemp a goose and I withdraw it.

The PRESIDENT —I think it is very sensible to withdraw it. I ask Senator Bolkus to complete his answer.

  Opposition senators interjecting

Senator BOLKUS —If those opposite want an answer—and I can understand why they do not want the truth on this—I will give them one. This answer comes from the Minister for Justice. He has been advised by the AFP that they were briefed by Queensland authorities strictly in accordance with the secrecy provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 1989, Queensland, in respect of certain inquiries being conducted by those authorities and involving state criminal offences. That briefing did not disclose the commission by any person of Commonwealth offences, including money laundering. The AFP further advise that because no Commonwealth offences were disclosed, no action by them was necessary; nor was the AFP asked to instigate an investigation.

  That goes to the general heart of what Senator O'Chee is raising. He is raising questions about AFP investigations. That is the response he will get, and that is the response Senator Chapman will get. After question time I will give him a few more answers to some of the questions he raised and some of the questions that Senator Boswell raised yesterday. The basic thing is that if Senator O'Chee comes in here trying to smear and imply through innuendo that this government has been involved in any way in interfering with any investigation of this matter, he is wrong, and he ought to accept it.

  It would actually do the reputations of Senator O'Chee and the rest of his colleagues a lot of good if they drew back a bit and understood that the advice that government has had is that there are no federal charges being investigated. Neither the NCA nor the AFP is investigating these sorts of matters, nor has the AFP been asked by the CJC of Queensland to do so. I ask Senator O'Chee to understand that, in our system of government, one of the great principles that those opposite always talk about is freedom to a fair trial and investigation. If people here are involved, they should be allowed that; they should not be having their names trundled through this place in a peremptory way by Senator O'Chee and his colleagues.

Senator O'CHEE —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. If the minister thinks I am talking innuendo, I ask him to deny the fact that on 8 June two women will face a court hearing resulting from this matter. I also ask him not to answer his own question but to answer the question as to whether the AFP was involved in surveillance of a federal politician who had dealings with a prostitute on the Gold Coast. I am not asking whether it was asked to do so by the CJC, but whether in fact the AFP conducted the investigation; not whether the NCA was asked by the CJC to do an investigation, but whether the NCA was in fact present on the Gold Coast at that time or at other times when this politician is alleged to have been involved in dealings with prostitutes. They are the questions that the minister has to answer and, until he answers those questions, the matter will not go away.

Senator BOLKUS —The matter will not go away so long as people like Senator O'Chee come in here—

  Senator Robert Ray interjecting

Senator BOLKUS —What was that, Senator?

The PRESIDENT —Order! Address yourself to the chair and answer the question.

Senator BOLKUS —It will not go away so long as Senator O'Chee refuses to accept the answers. I have already said in this place, and I say it again, the advice of the Minister for Justice is that the AFP is not investigating this matter—n-o-t, not, investigating this matter. This is the advice from the AFP to the minister.

  In respect of whether two women have been charged on the Gold Coast, the offences that they may in fact be charged with, the ones Senator O'Chee is alluding to, are probably state offences. Whether they are being charged I do not know; it is not within my capacity or that of the Minister for Justice to know if what we are talking about here are state offences. What is undisputable here, though, is that through innuendo and smear Senator O'Chee is coming into this place and trying to smear the whole government. He will not get away with it. This is backfiring on him already. Senator Hill might lean back passively and look. He is responsible for this—he and his new leader. If he had any decency, if he was concerned about gutter politics, he would be putting the brakes on these people.(Time expired)