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Monday, 6 June 1994
Page: 1357


Senator O'CHEE (7.48 p.m.) —Today in question time in the Senate, as on other occasions, the Minister representing the Minister for Justice, Senator Bolkus, told those of us in the coalition—Senator Chapman, Senator Boswell and myself—in relation to allegations against former Senator Graham Richardson, that we should put up or shut up. This afternoon in the House of Representatives, the honourable member for Kennedy, Mr Katter, attempted to put up just a very small portion of the information which was available to the coalition in regard to this matter. What did the government do? Did the government hear him out, or did the government attempt to do the opposite? In fact, the government did the opposite. When the opposition attempted to put up the information it had, the government went into cover-up mode.

  I was sitting in the Senators Gallery in the other place and I observed no fewer than five or six points of order taken on Mr Katter in a matter of just a couple of minutes, none of which had any substance, and all but the first of which had been ruled on previously and were ruled to be out of order. I seek the opportunity now to table and have incorporated in Hansard a statutory declaration of Mr Roland John Ellems which was sworn on 28 May 1994.

  Leave granted.

  The document read as follows

  I, Roland John Ellems of Unit 131 Victoria Square, Victoria Avenue, Broadbeach, Gold Coast in the state of Queensland solemnly and sincerely declare as follows:-

  I was advised last year by my son Scott Ellems that one of his surfing friends who was employed at the Seaworld Nara Resort as a bell boy had taken in his words prostitutes to the room of Senator Graham Richardson.

  I acknowledged the statement by my son but didn't say anything to anyone further. However in May of this year Bob Katter rang me at home and asked did I know anything about sorties of Senator Graham Richardson on the Gold Coast involving prostitutes. I said that I would check around which I did and I reported to Bob Katter that I had spoken to one of my son's friends whose name was Ayden Cross and that he was prepared to come to my home and make a statement in writing. That was to be on Tuesday the 10th of May. Ayden Cross stated the following:—That he was employed at the Seaworld Nara Resort as a bell boy and that on a particular date last year he observed Senator Graham Richardson in the foyer with two in his words "prostitutes". Senator Richardson then left the foyer area. A short while later he was approached by the same two prostitutes and asked could they be taken to Senator Richardson's room as they did not know the whereabouts of this room.

  He directed the girls and personally showed them to the room but did not enter the room. The other information he said that upset him visibly was that the following weekend Senator Richardson was staying at the resort with his wife and family and he found this hard to accept.

  Furthermore he stated that Senator Richardson had been staying at the resort on a number of occasions and that it was common knowledge and discussion amongst the staff at Seaworld Nara that Senator Richardson was involved with other women while at the resort.

  I asked Ayden Cross further could he name any other staff off hand that made comment or had seen Senator Richardson with any other women. He said yes there was a security guard by the name of Michael Cook who had mentioned to him that on previous occasions he had seen Senator Richardson walking across the grassed area late at night in a bath robe with a lady also in a bath robe and they entered the private condominium of Peter Laurance and it was commonly known and advise to the staff of the Nara Resort that Senator Richardson had the use of Peter Laurance's condominium.

  I received a telephone call on the morning of the 10th May from Ayden Cross who said that he had changed his mind and wasn't prepared to give a statement after talking with his parents as they were concerned about his safety in making a statement of this nature. I then advised Bob Katter who I believe has spoken to the father of Ayden Cross. Ayden Cross' father's brother is a senior police officer in Queensland and after conferring with this senior police officer Ayden Cross went to the Gold Coast police station at Southport and has made a statement in relation to this matter.

  I have been interviewed on Thursday 12th May by Neil McArthur and Brendon Smith of the Major Crime Squad in Brisbane in relation to this matter and they confirmed that Ayden Cross had completed a statement after an interview at the Southport Police Station. Ayden Cross had also mentioned this incident to other friends of my son last year.

  And I solemnly and sincerely declare that the abovementioned has been declared by me under and pursuant to the provisions of the Oaths Act of Queensland.

Signed and declared

by Roland John Ellems

in my presence this 28th day of May, 1994.

Solicitor


Senator O'CHEE —As the document has been incorporated in Hansard, I will not delay the Senate by reading it all. However, it is important to note that the document is basically a record of details provided to Mr Ellems by one Ayden Cross. At the time, Ayden Cross was employed as a bellboy at the Seaworld Nara Resort and it was he who escorted two prostitutes to the room occupied by former Senator Richardson last year.

  Mr Cross, as will also be noted from the statutory declaration, has sworn a statement at the Gold Coast Police Station at Southport in relation to this matter. As a consequence of that statement sworn by Mr Cross, Mr Ellems, who had information in this regard and who spoke to Mr Cross earlier, was interviewed. He said:

I have been interviewed on Thursday 12th May by Neil McArthur and Brendon Smith of the Major Crime Squad in Brisbane in relation to this matter and they confirmed that Ayden Cross had completed a statement after an interview at the Southport Police Station.

It is very clear that there is quite substantial evidence to associate former Senator Richardson with the allegations that have been made in this place and in the other place and it is totally and utterly dishonest for this government to say that those of us on this side have no evidence. We have tabled in the Senate tonight just the tip of the iceberg of evidence available to us.

  We want to see this matter properly and thoroughly dealt with. There is no reason to believe this government when it goes into cover-up mode, saying that the opposition has no credibility. Until this government ascertains the exact substance of the statement made by Mr Cross and is willing to admit that statements have been made to the Queensland Police in relation to former Senator Richardson's dealings with prostitutes, we can have no confidence in it and absolutely no confidence in its interest in this matter being properly and thoroughly investigated.

  Every time this matter has been raised in the other place by Mr Katter there has been nothing but obfuscation and obstruction from the Labor Party. It is interesting to note that as I walked across the Members Hall today, I went past Mr Leo McLeay, Mr Kerr and Mr Holding—three of the culprits who took points of order after points of order, none of them having any substance, in an attempt to interrupt Mr Katter's speech. I heard them discussing very loudly how they were going to deal with this particular allegation. They were rehearsing the defence.

  The great defence from Labor, the great defence from the party of the worker was, `He is just a bellboy. Who is going to listen to a bellboy? Nobody is going to listen to a bellboy. After all he is only a bell boy.' This is the line that you will hear this government trot out time and time again over the next couple of days. It will try to discredit somebody simply on the basis that he is a young man employed as a bellboy.

  So much for the credibility of this government. Instead of saying, `We have to take this matter seriously. It is a matter of substance. Let's face it, it has been reported to the Major Crime Squad in Queensland', what will the government's response be? The response of the government will be to attack and vilify the person who has made a statement to the police in good faith. Mr Cross made his statement to the police not just because he was sickened by the fact that former Senator Richardson was involved in these matters but because the following weekend former Senator Richardson was staying at the resort with his wife and family. As the statutory declaration says, Mr Cross found this hard to accept.

  There is very good reason why this matter has to be taken seriously. Mr Katter has already made it very clear in the House of Representatives that there is a substantial link between Mr Peter Laurance and former Senator Richardson. That link is evidenced by the fact that former Senator Richardson was invited to Mr Laurance's wedding—people do not invite just anyone off the street to their wedding. It has also been evidenced by the fact that former Senator Richardson has admitted that Mr Laurance is a longstanding friend of his and that they go back a long way.


Senator Collins —When are you getting married? Are you going to invite me to your wedding?


Senator O'CHEE —I certainly shall not be inviting you to my wedding. That is proof of the fact that people are generally very fussy about who they invite to their wedding. That is why we have to look at this matter with a great deal of seriousness.

  To date the government has not displayed any seriousness in examining this matter. It is incumbent on the government to put up or shut up. It has to disprove the substance of what we have raised in this parliament. It is up to the government to start to answer some of the questions that Senator Boswell, Senator Chapman and I have raised in this place.

  Instead of smear and innuendo, let us hear the government say, `Yes, we are taking this matter very seriously'. That is what I want to hear and what the people of Australia want to hear. At the time Mr Cross raised this matter it was unknown to any of us in this parliament. It is therefore totally unreasonable to say that we are the source of these allegations. The source of these allegations is on the Gold Coast with the people who are sickened—utterly sickened—by the behaviour allegedly indulged in by former Senator Richardson.

  We have here a major problem for this government because it can have no credibility as far as honesty and integrity are concerned if it tries to claim that this is smear and innuendo. This government can have no credibility if its only defence against this unhappy and sorry saga is to invite those of us who raise these matters in the best interests of this country to step outside and walk straight into a writ. That is the tactic the government will use—the tactic of intimidation.

  We have already seen the government try to intimidate Senator Chapman. We have already seen it try to intimidate Senator Chapman's researcher. We have already seen it try to intimidate people at the CJC—people it mistakenly thought were associated with me, and I point out clearly that it was mistaken there. We have already seen the government try to intimidate just about everybody who has raised this matter.

  Unfortunately for the government, I can assure it that honourable senators on this side will not lie down while these matters remain unresolved and uninvestigated by the Labor Government. These are matters of serious concern for all Australians and, as Senator Chapman said in question time today, we believe that there is a prima facie possibility that there may have been an offence under section 73 of the Crimes Act. That is a federal matter and it requires investigation.

  That aside, it is right and proper in this place to raise matters of public affairs during question time or at any other time. It is a matter of great public concern that a former minister of this government, and at a time when he was a minister, is alleged to have been receiving the services of a prostitute, has been linked to organised crime figures, and that those organised figures have their tentacles in the most nefarious and utterly unacceptable criminal activity in this country. I and all honourable senators on this side of the chamber believe that a cover up will just not do.(Time expired)

Senate adjourned at 7.58 p.m.