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Wednesday, 1 June 1994
Page: 1073

Senator CHAPMAN —For Senator Ray's benefit, my fully researched question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Justice. In reply to my questions on Monday about the Australian Federal Police, the minister said, `The AFP has not provided assistance or information, and as far as I am informed is not investigating anything.' Three weeks ago, on 12 May, he also asserted, `The AFP, I am informed, has not provided any assistance or information to any Queensland law enforcement agency.' Yesterday, in supplementary answers, he admitted to the AFP being briefed by Queensland authorities and to the government being briefed by the AFP, but he continued to deny any AFP involvement in these investigations. Has the minister or the Attorney-General been briefed on the AFP's Operation TUB? Is the minister aware that Carlos, a key party to allegations concerning former Senator Graham Richardson, is known by Queensland authorities to have been a target of the AFP's Operation TUB? Will the minister explain how the Queensland law enforcement agencies were advised of Operation TUB, because the minister would have us believe the AFP could not provide any information or assistance? (Time expired)

Senator BOLKUS —This matter has been going on for about a month now. In fact, no matter that has been raised by the opposition has not been answered by the government. The specifics of what Senator Chapman raises I will pass on to the minister. Over the last 22 days in this place we have seen Senator Boswell and Senator Chapman following up with questions on this particular issue—questions, for instance, regarding the joint operation between the CJC, the NCA and the AFP operations. As I have said on a number of occasions, they do not exist; there are no such joint operations.

  We have heard Senator Chapman make allegations regarding two other so-called related investigations, and his claim that the AFP failed to proceed with investigations in this matter. He raised questions of political interference which, of course, are once again rubbish. Yesterday we saw Senator O'Chee come into this place and raise questions regarding AFP surveillance of prostitution on the Gold Coast and charges being brought against two prostitutes—charges which he and Senator Boswell in a later press statement indicated quite clearly were state charges.

  With respect to those questions raised yesterday by Senator Chapman, let me say that the answer we have received from the Acting Commissioner of Police in relation to whether the AFP was involved in monitoring a federal politician's dealings with a prostitute on the Gold Coast is that the AFP has not been involved in investigation, monitoring or surveillance of a federal politician on the Gold Coast. There has been no request or requirement to do so and no such activities have been undertaken.

  With respect to the other parts of his question—what action has been taken, has anybody been charged, and whatever—the AFP has informed us that allegations of prostitution which constitute breaches of state legislation are outside the jurisdiction of the AFP. The AFP has not carried out any such investigations on the Gold Coast and is therefore not in a position to comment in relation to such matters.

  We have a continuation of this smear. What we have in this place with respect to all these questions is an assertion that the Commonwealth's law enforcement agencies are, or have been, involved in directly investigating these matters, which I have said on a number of occasions, on the advice of the AFP, that they are not. We have also had allegations that they should be involved but are not because of alleged political interference. Let me repeat what the Attorney-General said in response to a question from Mr Katter on this matter when this grubby exercise was first embarked on. He said that the article Mr Katter had mentioned referred to an investigation by the Queensland CJC, and he went on:

The activities and investigations of the Queensland CJC are not referred to me, the Minister for Justice or the Commonwealth government.

Let me restate what I have said on a number of occasions previously in this place: the AFP and the NCA are not investigating the allegations raised. The AFP and the NCA have advised that the information they have received from the CJC in the course of normal information sharing would not warrant their investigating these matters. Further, the AFP has assured the Minister for Justice that none of the information supplied to it divulges the commission of any Commonwealth offence.

   It is time for the opposition to put up or shut up. If the opposition reckons that it has information from the CJC or the Queensland police or some other source which divulges Commonwealth offences, it should put up or shut up. It should hand it over to the AFP and let the AFP determine whether a Commonwealth investigation is warranted.

  If Senator Chapman has in his possession information which he claims might bring down the government, he should hand that over to the AFP and let the real law enforcers pursue these allegations. If those opposite do not have such information, they have an obligation not to pursue this matter. If they do not have anything other than information that the CJC has already shared with the AFP or the NCA, they have no basis for any claim that Commonwealth agencies should be involved in investigating these matters. Smear by innuendo is something that those opposite should not be on about—(Time expired)

Senator CHAPMAN —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Again, for about the third or fourth day, we have seen the minister either unwilling to answer questions directed to him or revealing his ignorance of the issues involved. While the minister is finding out the answers to the questions I have asked him today, perhaps he can also find out and provide me with an answer about what has happened to the AFP's Operation TUB. Can he give me an assurance that there has been no political interference in the operation or outcome of Operation TUB?

Senator BOLKUS —If those opposite have any information to substantiate any case, they should put it forward. If they have not, what they are coming in here with today, as they have in recent weeks, is what their own leader said yesterday to Paul Barber on 3AW was `scuttlebutt'. Mr Downer described Bob Katter's allegations as scuttlebutt. It was a very transparent, very inept way of distancing himself from this scuttlebutt, this smear campaign that is going on in this place, but he cannot do it effectively or convincingly. We know that Senator Hill and Senator Boswell are up to their eyeballs in this. The Liberals cannot have leadership in the other house while their two major leaders in this place are running a gutter campaign. This is the leader who last week paraded across Australia saying that he wanted the politics of issues, not the politics of the gutter. He either has no authority, and I do not believe that, or he is up to his ears in this with Senator Hill, Senator Boswell and Senator Chapman, in a coalition exercise to keep politics in the gutter in this country. If it is not scuttlebutt, put up the evidence or shut up. (Time expired)