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Tuesday, 19 November 2002
Page: 6792

Senator ROBERT RAY (8:17 PM) —Tonight we have actually heard from the last great Kennett legacy project—that is Senator Tchen. He is here, of course, not on any particular merit, although I think he has got some; he was sent here to replace Senator Karen Synon. You would understand this, Mr Acting Deputy President Brandis: Senator Synon was sent here by the Kroger-Costello forces. Jeff Kennett was not too pleased with someone he often referred to as `the dog' and so he made sure, for once, that he worked hard at the numbers—and I assume Senator Troeth backed him up on this—and rolled Senator Synon. So they looked all around the state to find some harmless fellow to send into the Senate whom no-one could criticise, and they came up with the previous speaker. To repay them, he loyally comes in here and trots out the dreary, drudgy Victorian Liberal lines.

There is nothing positive of course. They have no vision for Melbourne—none whatsoever. Their only vision is to allow people to speed on the freeways they want to build. We have spent a long time in Victoria trying to get the speed limits down and trying to protect the Victorians—look at the death toll this year; it is far less than the previous year—and what does Senator Tchen's ally want to do? He does not want people booked for speeding; he wants to extend the limits. That is the sort of pathetic policy they are involved in.

Their whole policy on Melbourne 2030, their whole criticism and their whole critique is aimed at defending seats that Labor would need a six to 10 per cent swing to win. They are not out there campaigning in the marginals and they are not out there campaigning in rural and regional Victoria; they are out there defending the eastern suburbs heartland. That is what zone 3 is about. They are out there defending a non-existent six to 10 per cent swing. They are not out there contesting, as they should be.

Senator Tchen comes in here and says, `Kenneth Davidson is critical—look at him. He is normally a weak, soft, pink left-winger. He is critical.' You only have to have read the Age for the last three years to have seen what a pathological hater Kenneth Davidson is of the Bracks government. Every second week there is an article. It is the same article with the paragraphs in a different order.

Senator Troeth —He is hiding it very well.

Senator ROBERT RAY —`He is hiding it very well,' says Senator Troeth. He hates the Bracks government from a left-wing perspective, Senator Troeth. Don't you understand that? He is the old pinko not willing to accept the modernised Labor Party. He is out of date and he is gone, but he has an ally in Senator Tchen and that is very good to see— Senator Tchen coming out and supporting the left-wing journalist in the Age. I am very impressed by that!

But if in fact this party is serious, it is about time it started answering questions rather than running. Let us turn our attention for a minute to Dr Robert Dean. When you look at the press conferences that have been held by either Dr Dean or Mr Robert Doyle, they have run from answering the crucial questions. There is no difference between what Dr Dean did and what some of the rascals in the Labor Party in Queensland did. Both are unforgivable and both should be punished—and, in the case of Queensland, they were punished by their own political parties.

Senator Ferris —Where did Paul Keating live when he was Treasurer?

Senator ROBERT RAY —Senator Ferris asks where someone lived. The first thing you have to do is live for 30 days at the address at which you enrol, and Dr Dean never lived there for one night. Not one night! So when he filled out his enrolment form he lied, he misled and he deceived—he never lived there. He not only deceived the electorate but committed an illegal act.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brandis)—Senator Ray, I think that the prohibition under standing order 193(3) applies to members of other parliaments as well. Dr Dean, as I understand it, is a member of the Victorian parliament.

Senator ROBERT RAY —No, he is not anymore.

Senator Mackay —News flash!

Senator ROBERT RAY —A news flash for you! Thank you for keeping up to date and reinforcing my case. In fact, Mr Doyle himself told us he was no longer a member of the parliamentary Liberal Party. So what do we have as the second thing he did? When, according to the records, new tenants moved in there, did Dr Dean inform the Electoral Commission that he had moved back to Hawthorn, even though he had never moved in the first place? No, he did not. That was the second act of deception and the second illegal act. But the most illegal act of all was that a few days ago he nominated for parliament. He signed a declaration that he was enrolled and living at that address in his electorate when he lived 30 kilometres away in Hawthorn. That was a third act of illegality, a third act of deception.

Dr Dean did none of this to rort the electoral system directly. I acknowledge that. He did not try to maximise the vote in the electorate of Gembrook by voting there himself when he lived in Hawthorn. That was not the intention. It was for internal political reasons—the very same stupid internal reasons that people in the Labor Party in Queensland got into strife over. It was not to rort the election outcome but to affect internal operations of a political party. Seats were abolished after a redistribution in Victoria. Things got a bit nasty out Gembrook way when Mr Robert McClelland wanted to run again for the seat because it was a merged seat. Dr Dean wanted to run because his neighbouring seat was abolished. So he wanted to establish his local credentials. He had moved down to Hawthorn 10 years ago. So he rented a place and enrolled there. He never went there—all of the neighbours say that they have never seen him. He will never answer a direct question as to whether he has ever been there. Mr Doyle says he will not even ask that question. What an intellectually rigorous Leader of the Opposition we have in Victoria. He will not even ask his close friend Dr Dean, who is not only a close friend but also his numbers man. You would think Mr Doyle would have been to the Hawthorn residence for the odd dinner or made the odd phone call there. But, in fact, none of them know anything.

I suppose the most despicable thing of all happened on Saturday morning. The excuse for all of this was a very intense personal thing that had nothing to do with the issue whatsoever. It was dragged in as a red herring and it has disgraced all politicians.

Senator Troeth —How would you know?

Senator ROBERT RAY —Because I do know this, Senator Troeth: no matter what your personal circumstances are in terms of the size of house that you live in, you do not have to move 30 kilometres away to find a small house. It was an absolute furphy, and it is recognised by most of your people in Victoria as that. I will not have to remind you that the last time that happened in this chamber some seven or eight years ago we were all massively embarrassed when someone said that it was the death of a senator that caused him to resign, when there were a dozen other reasons. Introducing that personal aspect that had nothing to do with his false enrolment—absolutely nothing; it was for preselection purposes—has embarrassed all of us, because it makes us all look like cynical users. I do not forgive him for that.

I understand the problems he had with his preselection. I do not condone the way he tried to resolve it and maximise his position in the internal affairs of the Liberal Party in Victoria, but I can at least understand that the motive was not to rort the election or the electorate per se. We accept that. But he will not answer the questions directly and he will not say whether he ever lived there even for one night. All the neighbours know he never lived there for one night and that it was just a convenience. When you look at Mr Doyle's original press conference when he announced all of this, he said that it was an inadvertent mistake. That can lead you only to two conclusions: either Mr Doyle was not telling the full truth that he knew about the matter or he is such a naive leader that anyone can give him any story and he automatically accepts it. He should have looked beyond the explanation that it was an inadvertent mistake that Mr Dean was not in fact enrolled.

It is interesting that some Victorian Liberals are saying, `This must be a deliberate act by the Victorian Electoral Commission to fix up Mr Dean.' I am pretty sure—but we will find out—that this was a proper act by the Australian Electoral Commission in the joint roll arrangements. They went through the normal procedures. The great irony is that Dr Dean would not have been caught if he had put in a redirection order—$33 has cost him his career—because no-one would have known. Why did he not put in a redirection order? He never lived there and no-one was ever going to send him any mail, so why spend the $33? After all, it was only seven years ago that he was quoted in the local newspaper saying that he had continued his profession at law whilst he was in the state parliament because he could not live off his parliamentary salary of close to $100,000 a year. Indeed, for $33 we have seen a political career go down the drain. I would have a lot more sympathy for him if he had not run that red herring out about personal circumstances which had no relevance to this case whatsoever.