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Tuesday, 31 May 1994
Page: 924

Senator McKIERNAN (3.28 p.m.) —I do not pretend to know about the issues that are involved in any investigations that may have been conducted by the National Crime Authority or other persons and, quite frankly, I do not want to know. We live in a democracy and we have a system of government and a legal system which charges bodies to do those investigations. Investigations of the nature of the assertions and allegations that have been being made in this and the other place should not be conducted in this place or, indeed in the other place. There are proper, established bodies to conduct investigations like that.

  What we have seen in the other place more particularly, but certainly in this place in the last couple of days—yesterday and today—is not only smear and innuendo, as Senator Bolkus has said, but it has actually gone further. It has actually been charges, a trial and, indeed, convictions of persons. I do not think there is anybody on the other side of the chamber, or indeed, collectively on this side of the chamber as well, who knows enough about the issues and the allegations that are being made to go to the extent of charging and putting a person on trial and convicting that person.

  I think we are playing political games. I do not have a problem about people playing political games at all; I do have a problem about people being holier than thou. The most disgraced government in this country was not, as one of the interjectors said, the Burke Labor government from Western Australia, it was actually the Bjelke-Petersen government of Queensland.

  Opposition senators interjecting

Senator McKIERNAN —The interjectors continue but I would challenge them to tell me what Brian Burke has been convicted of and I ask them to give the Senate, the people of Australia and the people of Western Australia information about the amount of time that Mr Burke has served in prison for offences that he has been convicted of in the courts of Australia.

  The National Party senators would probably be able to tell me the names of various ex-ministers of the Queensland Bjelke-Petersen National Party government who have actually served time in prison. They could probably even go further and tell me the name of a police commissioner who has been convicted and lost some of his superannuation as well.

  Let us search the record and see whether the holier than thou, protector of the public right, National Party senators and members of the House of Representatives questioned the Bjelke-Petersen government when it was in government and committing deeds it should not have been committing.

  Opposition senators interjecting

Senator McKIERNAN —It did not, because we are playing politics now and they were playing politics then in defending them. Regarding interjections about Mr Burke, I ask people to put on the record what Mr Burke has been convicted of. Let them tell me the names of various ministers in the Burke Labor government who have been convicted or who have served any time in prison. They should then have a look at today's West Australia newspaper which carries the lead story of an admission of guilt of one David King, an admission of guilt for official corruption for taking $20,000 or attempting to take $20,000 bribery from a developer, from a local authority in Western Australia.

  We on this side of the chamber would not know Mr King as well as those on the other side of the chamber because he was not actually a member of the Australian Labor Party. Indeed, he was almost a candidate on one occasion. In today's paper as well—

Senator Panizza —Almost a candidate? There are plenty of those around!

Senator McKIERNAN —Just bear with me for a second. He implicates another individual, who unfortunately is not in Australia, but, that is not the end of the trail.