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Tuesday, 31 May 1994
Page: 922

Senator BOLKUS (Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (3.20 p.m.) —There is not really much to say in respect of what Senator O'Chee has raised, other than once again to comment on what we have here—and that is, innuendo. I have made it very clear from the start—and I did so in answering earlier questions—that there has not been an AFP investigation into this matter. My advice, even to this minute, is that there has not been and there is not an AFP investigation into prostitution on the Gold Coast. I cannot be more specific in response to the point he raises.

Senator Parer —What about organised crime?

Senator BOLKUS —In terms of organised crime, there is an NCA inquiry into Italian organised crime—matter No. 14. We have already discussed other matters beforehand. What those opposite are concerned about here is whether there is an investigation at a federal level involving a particular Labor personality and whether the federal government is somehow interfering with that.

  As I said, the advice I have had consistently and up to the moment from both the AFP and the NCA through the Minister for Justice (Mr Kerr) is that there is no such ongoing investigation and, as a consequence, if there is no investigation no-one can be interfering with the conduct of such an investigation.

  Let us look closely at what Senator O'Chee says. He says there might be a prima facie offence which was a breach of state law. No-one has denied that the Criminal Justice Commission of Queensland may be investigating matters there. The fact that there may be a prima facie case which was a breach of state law is no responsibility of this government. State law is state law; federal law is federal law. If there is no joint investigation, we have no role in it. He goes on to say that I have not made it clear that there is no AFP involvement. I have made it clear: the AFP is not investigating prostitution on the Gold Coast. But on it goes. Every angle he tries to bring into it is an angle of innuendo and smear. I think it behoves him to have a bit of a memory on these sorts of matters and listen to what the government is saying in response to his question today.

  In response to Senator Boswell's question about the NCA, I have placed it all on the record. In response to questions about the AFP obtaining briefings, investigating and whatever, I have put that on the record as well. I do not know what the guys opposite from the National Party are really on about with this issue. God knows that if any group of individuals in this country has suffered police investigation and trials, it has been their former colleagues in Queensland. At one stage the whole cabinet used to meet in the Boggo Road goal in Queensland—and for good reason; they were all convicted. They know that. Senator Boswell understands this. It probably is best, as it always is in these cases not to presume guilt and drag people's personalities and reputations through this place, especially on the lack of evidence they have.

  If they have anything and if they are sure of anything they should go outside and say it. I know what happened on Sunday night on the way back from the Crows v. Fitzroy game in Adelaide—and it was a good result for the Crows, though not as good as it was for the Bombers the day before. There was a plane travelling from Adelaide to Canberra. At the front of the plane sat Senator Chapman, Mr Downer, Mr Nicholls and, I gather, Senator Ferguson. They were not discussing football on the way back.

  Within 24 hours Senator Chapman was in here, under the new spring clean leadership, asking questions based on smear and innuendo. What do honourable senators think they discussed on the plane on the way over? The new Leader of the Opposition is up to his eyeballs in this. The man who proclaims he does not want to get into the gutter has all his little lemmings doing it for him. If there are Logies for smear, those in the opposition will be getting them and Senator Chapman will get the first one. The architect of it all is sitting in their main office. Alexander Downer, on the plane from Adelaide, orchestrated all that in collusion with some of his colleagues. They did not discuss football on the way back; I know that.

Senator Ferguson —How do you know?

Senator BOLKUS —One of my colleagues was on the plane. Those opposite discussed how to orchestrate a campaign of smear. They will all be condemned for it.