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Tuesday, 31 May 1994
Page: 925

Senator COONEY (3.36 p.m.) —The difficulty with the situation before us is this: a person's reputation is very much on the line. We all are very jealous of the reputation we have. People will fight vigorously, expend great sums of money and do anything to preserve their reputation. That is proper and right. The reputation of people should not be taken away from them unless the evidence against them is of the most cogent source.

  What is happening here is that innuendos and allegations are being made. There is even an allegation that there is evidence that the police have investigated and what have you. Ultimately, we will see what happens. In the meantime, would it not be fair to all concerned to wait until that evidence, which it is alleged will take away a person's reputation, is established on a firm and convincing basis?

Senator Abetz —Not if that person is involved in the highest level of government.

Senator COONEY —I take Senator Abetz's point, but I did not take it to be the situation that the person against whom these allegations are made is now at the highest level of government. As I understand it, no allegations have been made against any serving minister. I take the honourable senator's point about the fact that if there are allegations against a serving minister, something ought to be done about that because that person is part of the government. But I understand from what has just been said by interjection, and what has been said so far, that there is no allegation against any serving minister. There is no allegation that needs to be chased to ground at this point.

  There is every reason, therefore, that judgment on these matters ought to be reserved until the investigation that it is alleged is being carried out has a result. Would it not be fairer for us to wait until that happens, until the facts are actually established, and not play around, as we are now, with suggestions, with innuendos, with what might or might not be? Would it not be fairer for that to be the situation, given the fact that establishing or not establishing now or in a month from now what is alleged will have no effect on this government, except in terms of some political advantage that may or may not be gained from casting aspersions in the way that they have been cast?