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Tuesday, 28 June 1994
Page: 2188

Senator McGAURAN (12.27 a.m.) —I am just waiting for the clock to gauge my time.

Senator Faulkner —You have none, by the look of it.

Senator McGAURAN —I hear Senator Faulkner interjecting. I am pleased that Senator Faulkner, as the minister responsible for sport, remains in the Senate to hear what I have to say because it relates to comments by Mr Cleeland, the honourable member for McEwen, in the adjournment debate yesterday.

  In the short time available to me, I say that Mr Cleeland did not construct his attack upon the AFL commission and its executive director, Mr Ross Oakley, with a great deal of wit or with any decency. Of course, it was incorrect all the way through, yet Senator Faulkner, in answering a question in question time today, chose in effect to support Mr Cleeland and not intervene in his capacity as minister to quell this most important argument that is brewing in Victoria.

  If Senator Faulkner thinks he has no responsibility in this matter, then he is sadly mistaken. As minister responsible for sport in this country, he seems to be neglecting the sporting and cultural significance of the AFL in Australia. I point out to Senator Faulkner and, indeed, Mr Cleeland the utter irresponsibility of one particular comment. Mr Cleeland took a very cheap shot at Mr Ross Oakley, the executive director of the AFL. Mr Cleeland said:

  I speak concerning the Australian Football League and its current management. Mr Oakley is a member of the class of 1972, that famous class of people who gained their MBAs at Melbourne University, which class includes Mr Elliott and Mr Jarrett among others. Mr Oakley has brought to Australian rules football the same sorts of management practices.

No-one can be left in any doubt as to what Mr Cleeland was suggesting—that this very high profile issue at the moment dealing with Mr Elliott can be equated to the AFL and the management practices of Mr Oakley. From the chairman of the NCA committee, that is irresponsible—and that is putting it lightly. The chairman of the NCA committee—the very organisation that has inquired into Mr Elliott's and Mr Jarrett's affairs—Mr Cleeland, has decided that he will use his most important position to align that sort of behaviour with the AFL and Mr Oakley. It is irresponsible, it is not worthy of a chairman and it is not worthy indeed of Mr Cleeland. I am surprised to think Mr Cleeland would place himself in such an irresponsible position. Quite frankly, that position is no longer safe in Mr Cleeland's hands. Is the minister leaving?

Senator Faulkner —No, I am not. I am coming closer to listen more intently.

Senator McGAURAN —I thank the minister. Other than all the incorrect points that he makes throughout his speech, this more than anything is defamatory, and the AFL knows it. The AFL has its solicitors scanning this for one wrong word by Mr Cleeland outside the House. It is significant that these statements were made at the time that the government is parading the questionable rights and privileges that parliamentarians should hold inside the parliament. At the very time that parliamentary privilege is being questioned by this government because of past actions, there goes Mr Cleeland using parliamentary privilege, as chairman of the NCA committee, aligning NCA activities to the AFL. Boy, what a miscalculation they have made!

  What help has he brought Mr Brumby? Mr Brumby and his most desperate Victorian Labor Party have now seriously miscalculated; they have misunderstood not just the Victorian people's love for football but all Australians' love for football. It is a serious miscalculation. Why have they done it? It is simply a very crude attempt to win back the lost blue collar workers in the state of Victoria, because they love their football. It is a crude attempt by the Labor Party to play cheap politics on a very soft target to win back votes. But it is going to backfire.

Senator Faulkner —Who is the soft target?

Senator McGAURAN —The soft target is the AFL and Mr Oakley. I have only one minute left. I would love to go through all the points Mr Cleeland made about elitism in the AFL, the Sydney Swans and just the utter incorrectness of every single point he made. But I will come back to the one point that the chairman of the NCA committee believes the AFL, its commissioners and its executive director, Mr Oakley, are behaving in the same way as the very high profile Elders IXL, Mr Elliott and Mr Jarrett and all the innuendo that goes with it. That is what the chairman of the NCA committee has accused the Australian Football League of.

The PRESIDENT —The time has expired for the debate.

Senator Ian Macdonald —As there is no-one here from the government side, I move an extension of time to allow Senator McGauran to finish.

Senator Faulkner —You can't do that.

Senator Ian Macdonald —Senator Faulkner cannot talk while walking around the chamber; he has to be in his place.

Senator Faulkner —I am here.

Senator Ian Macdonald —Mr President, is Senator Faulkner allowed to talk from where he likes?

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Macdonald, are you raising a point of order?

Senator Ian Macdonald —I am raising a point of order about Senator Faulkner wandering around yelling at you, Mr President.

Senator Faulkner —I can walk around the chamber, you goose!

Senator Ian Macdonald —You cannot.

Senator Faulkner —I can and I have.

Senator Ian Macdonald —Mr President, get him to withdraw that unparliamentary language.

Senator Faulkner —I will do exactly what I like. I will walk where I like.

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Faulkner, there is already a senator on his feet taking a point of order, I think. Senator Macdonald, would you say what you are arguing.

Senator Ian Macdonald —Mr President, my point of order at this present time is to ask you to ask the minister to withdraw that language and instruct him in the proper parliamentary procedures. Tell him he cannot wander around shouting at you and then sit down and tell you that he can do what he likes. That is the first point of order, and then I will continue with the other matter I was on.

The PRESIDENT —There is no point of order. What I decide to do with Senator Faulkner is my business. He was entitled to walk back to his seat.

Senator Ian Macdonald —Yelling at you?

The PRESIDENT —He was not yelling at me; he was yelling at you. I think you are only making things worse by drawing attention to that because that is a side issue. Would you get on with your point of order.

Senator Ian Macdonald —Is he entitled to call me whatever he called me?

The PRESIDENT —Interjections are disorderly, but there was nothing unparliamentary.

Senator Ian Macdonald —Well, it is okay to call him a goose. He is a goose, we all know that—you great goose!

The PRESIDENT —Senator Macdonald, you demean yourself more than this place when you do that. But go ahead, what is your point of order?

Senator Ian Macdonald —Thank you for your gratuitous advice, Mr President. I very much appreciate that. I want to move an extension of time to allow Senator McGauran to complete his speech.

Senator Faulkner —You can't, you great goose.

Senator Ian Macdonald —Listen, you great goose, would you just keep out it?

The PRESIDENT —Order! The time for this debate has expired.

Senate adjourned at 12.35 a.m. (Wednesday).