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Thursday, 23 June 1994
Page: 1962

Senator McKIERNAN (10.46 a.m.) —I also want to address the reply Senator Evans gave earlier during question time. I too saw the program on Lateline last night and, as I recall it—the transcript is not available to me—a question was put to the Prime Minister about the content of a book that has not yet been published. The question was put on the basis of somebody else telling somebody else what the content of that book was in reference to Australia's placement in the world.

Senator Chapman —He didn't deny it.

Senator McKIERNAN —I have not seen the book, Senator Chapman has not seen the book, and the former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, has not seen the book, to the best of my knowledge. We are working ourselves into a lather about something that is completely and utterly hypothetical at this point. If the supposed comments are contained in that book by former Prime Minister Hawke, undoubtedly there will be a debate in this place and in other places about the comment, and unquestionably the Prime Minister will seek to use forums such as the chambers of the parliament to put the record straight.

  I think there are much more important things than rumours to talk about in the parliament of Australia. There was tremendous content in that interview last night about matters that are of importance to all Australians, not the least of which are interest rates and the way the bond markets are going. There was a whole host of key important things that should be debated in the supreme parliament of Australia. What are we debating? We are debating innuendo. We are saying, `We love Australia more than you.' That is utter rubbish. The love of Australia is not determined by which side of the chamber you happen to sit on.

  Mr Keating has a commitment to this country that I suggest is unmatched by any other parliamentarian in this place. That is not in any way denigrating all the other parliamentarians. He has set a course on a track to the future. He is looking to future generations of this country rather than, as others would have us—not all others—reflecting on and wandering back to the Middle Ages, when we had different sovereigns in a different part of the world to whom we could bend the knee.

  I also want to take this opportunity to make a comment about the previous speaker, Senator Abetz. Quite properly, Mr Acting Deputy President, a point of order was taken and a comment made by one of the people on this side about one of the people on the other side was withdrawn. I will not repeat the comment. It was not a particularly nasty one, it was not a particularly damaging one, it probably was not even accurate; but it was withdrawn. We know the standards that are set in debates in this place, and yet yesterday and the day before we saw private individuals, who have no right of reply, having their characters assassinated in this place.

Senator Campbell —Like Penny Easton.

Senator McKIERNAN —If you want to debate Penny Easton, Senator Campbell, I am more than ready to match you at any time.

Senator Campbell —What has happened to your inquiry?

Senator McKIERNAN —I wonder why you did not proceed with the promise you made in this chamber to approach your conservative colleagues in the state government of Western Australia about a judicial inquiry into the matter.

  The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Colston)—Please direct your comments through the chair, if you do not mind.

Senator McKIERNAN —Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. I shall direct my remarks through the chair. I wonder why Senator Campbell has not asked for a judicial inquiry. What is he running away from in not asking for a judicial inquiry? There are enough smells in the government of Western Australia. I would suggest that the last thing in the world the Court Western Australian government wants at this time is a judicial inquiry. We know what will be revealed. Senator Campbell knows what will be revealed.

Senator Herron —I raise a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President. I ask you to rule on relevance in relation to the point Senator McKiernan makes about a court action or something in Western Australia.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator McKiernan has four seconds to go. I think we will let him go.

Senator McKIERNAN —The point of order Senator Herron raised—(Time expired)