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Tuesday, 30 August 1994
Page: 566

Senator KEMP (3.20 p.m.) —Senator Gareth Evans finished his remarks by saying that the appointment of people in parliament to these foreign affairs posts is a practice that should continue; that is what he said. But apparently Mr Barry Jones is the only Labor Party member of parliament who is in prospect of retiring and who will not be offered a diplomatic post, according to Senator Evans. We have a vast list of Labor Party cronies who have been put on the public payroll by Senator Evans and Mr Keating in recent times: Dr Blewett; John Dawkins; Kerry Sibraa; Mr Kerin; Michael Tate, at The Hague; Joan Kirner, the subject of a question today; Don Russell—he is not a former MP, but he is certainly a Labor crony, there is no question about that; and John Bannon. And the list goes on and on.

Senator Gareth Evans —Smith, Chaney, Baume—

Senator KEMP —Senator Evans has had his chance; I am going to have my chance. Senator Evans was to get a direct benefit from this. If Senator Evans could lever Barry Jones out of his seat, he could go into that seat. So it was of direct benefit to Senator Evans. In my view, on the scale of the Greiner-Metherell matter, it is far worse.

  Senator Evans comes in here with these mealy-mouthed words and says, `This is how it happened according to Senator Evans—the borders were changed, so Senator Evans went off and had a discussion with Barry Jones.' `What are your intentions, Barry?' says Gary. Barry says that he would quite like to stick around. Then Gary says, `If you left the parliament, how would you like to utilise your skills?' `This was asked, of course, in a purely general sense,' says Gary: `We did not actually offer any post but, given the great skills that Barry has, maybe he would like to reflect.' This is where you fell right into it, Gary.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Kemp, I think it is appropriate that you address senators by their proper titles.

Senator KEMP —All right. Senator Gary Evans then said, `What about the prospect of a UNESCO post?'

Senator Gareth Evans —I didn't.

Senator KEMP —Read the Hansard; it will make even more interesting reading.

Senator Hill —How did Jones interpret it?

Senator KEMP —Jones would have certainly interpreted it that an offer was made.

Senator Gareth Evans —We don't have an ambassador for UNESCO. That is not what I said.

Senator KEMP —There will be a nice post over there for him too, possibly. Senator Evans fell into it. The Labor Party has become so used to plundering the public purse for its cronies that Senator Evans, in his loose conversation with Mr Barry Jones, did not quite reflect carefully enough on just what he was doing. What he was doing was something extraordinarily serious: he was offering Barry Jones a very lucrative post so that he, Senator Evans, could get a direct benefit. Of course, Senator Hill read out what Bob Carr said about that issue in relation to Metherell.

  We are seeing here, I believe, an exceedingly serious matter. It is a serious matter because, clearly, Mr Barry Jones has a full text of the conversation; he has kept very careful records about his conversations with the Prime Minister (Mr Keating). Apparently the nod, the green light, was given by Mr Keating; and there were his subsequent conversations with Senator Evans.

  I put it to you, Mr Deputy President, that it beggars belief. We have had a fulsome list, a list that covers page after page, of Labor members of parliament who have been given very lucrative ambassadorial posts, but Mr Barry Jones is the only one who has not been offered one. Come off the grass, Senator Evans!

  What Senator Evans did was extremely serious. I put it to him that the only way he can get out of this is to come into this parliament and make a full statement about what he has done. I believe that this parliament needs to stand up and closely scrutinise just how the government is using the foreign service as a milch cow for the Labor Party. We have had these debates with the government before over Mr Brian Burke. Does Minister Evans remember the Brian Burke affair? This is a very serious matter and it will certainly be pursued. (Time expired)