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Tuesday, 30 August 1994
Page: 567


Senator COONEY (3.25 p.m.) —The fact of the matter is that Senator Gareth Evans has given a full and satisfying explanation already. The only way anything can be made of this is to make all sorts of assumptions which just are not supported by the evidence.

  Senator Kemp used the example of Mr Greiner and Mr Metherell. I remind the Senate that, unfortunately, after Mr Greiner stood down as premier, the Supreme Court of New South Wales cleared him quite comprehensively. I remind the Senate that Mr Greiner was given the highest award this country can give for the services he rendered in the service of his country. I am sure that when those opposite mentioned the Metherell-Greiner exchange they were not in any way trying to denigrate Mr Greiner.


Senator Kemp —What did Bob Carr say?


Senator COONEY —If Bob Carr criticised Mr Greiner—


Senator Kemp —Was Bob Carr wrong?


Senator COONEY —He was wrong. He was quite wrong because I think Mr Greiner can be looked upon as a person who took what must have been an outrageous injustice to him very well. Just as it was an injustice to treat Mr Greiner as he was treated, it would be wrong for us to treat Senator Evans in any other way than as a person who has served this country in a grand way and who has given an explanation which is quite satisfying.

  Senator Gareth Evans wants to go to the lower house and he wants a chance, if he gets down there, for the caucus to make him Prime Minister later on. If that is his position, it is quite an honourable one. I agree with Alan Ramsey in that if the proverbial heartbeat of the Prime Minister (Mr Keating) should stop, Senator Evans would be one of very few who could take his place.

  There is nothing wrong with any of us in this Senate asking to go to the House of Representatives. There is nothing wrong with approaching people who are there to ask their intentions.


Senator Alston —Particularly if you have an offer in your back pocket.


Senator COONEY —There was no offer made and Senator Alston knows that quite well. If he thinks back to his old career, he will realise that there is just no evidence at all upon which he can hang a reasonable assumption that Senator Evans in any way offered an inducement to Mr Jones. Mr Jones does not say that he was offered a diplomatic post.


Senator Alston —How do you know that?


Senator COONEY —The onus is upon Senator Alston, as he well knows. This is the way he is going about this whole thing. He puts a proposition and says, `You cannot disprove that proposition; therefore, that proposition must be correct.' That is quite the wrong way of going about it—in logic and in law. That is exactly what has happened here. People are putting forward propositions that are not based on evidence and saying, `Disprove that proposition.'


Senator Kemp —He has admitted it.


Senator COONEY —He has not admitted anything. He said that he had a conversation, as two people who have known each other for years and years might.


Senator Crane —He suggested that there is gold in Geneva.


Senator COONEY —What does Senator Crane expect Senator Evans to do? Does he expect him to simply go around and say to Barry Jones, `Will you give me your seat?' He did not say that. He asked Barry Jones what his intentions were—the sort of thing that anybody in this house might do.

  Opposition senators take some sort of comfort from linking events in a very tenuous way and making suggestions which are quite outrageous. I know that they do it in a political situation, but Senator Evans should not be subjected to the sorts of things he has been subjected to by those opposite on presuppositions that have no basis at all. Even though he looks a robust and sterling character, anybody would be quite hurt by the sorts of accusations that have been made.


Senator Gareth Evans —Disappointed.


Senator COONEY —Disappointed. I know that those opposite are simply trying to make a political point but, having made that point, they should stop.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.