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Tuesday, 3 December 2002
Page: 7003

Senator ROBERT RAY (3:18 PM) —I have read the statement by Mr Andrew Rogers, which Minister Coonan tabled in the Senate today, in which he gives reasons for his changed enrolment circumstances. I must say that a more unconvincing rationale have I never read. It is just gobbledegook. It was only a few months ago that in a puff piece about the Coonans—and we have all been subject to those—they were quoted as lamenting that the weekender at Clareville `has not been visited this year'. In other words, neither Minister Coonan nor Mr Rogers had been to Clareville this year. How can you be on the electoral roll for a property you have not visited once in 2002? It is just a nonsense.

Mr Rogers was registered at the Woollahra address from 5 January 1998 to 14 March 2001, and that is consistent with everything else. He then moved his registration to Avalon from 14 March until just a week or two ago. But, of course, he did not change his address for Endispute. That is curious in itself. But, as with the Dr Dean case, it is the neighbours who tell you the story about Mr Rogers. One who lived next door said, `It's very rare to see him down here.' Another one, two doors away, said, `No-one lives here permanently; it's a weekender. We rarely see anyone there.' When confronted with these contradictions, what did Mr Rogers do? He said, `I moved up there whilst renovating.' Anyone who has ever been through renovating immediately is sympathetic, because of course you have to get out when you are being renovated. But then Minister Coonan corrected the record herself and informed the newspapers that the renovations had been complete for 11 months— before he changed his registration.

Senator Brandis —Haven't you read his statement?

Senator ROBERT RAY —Yes, I have read it, and it is gobbledegook. I am not today going to go to the motives of all this. Rogers was not entitled to be on the roll at Clareville. That is absolutely clear from his own statement, clear from the neighbours' statements and clear from the fact that he initially misled the newspapers as to his motive for making the change. Like all other electoral fraud here when it comes to registration, it is not actually to try to change votes at the other end. The point was made time and time again when everyone in this chamber, including some present, condemned electoral fraud in Queensland, it was not to affect the end result; it was for sordid internal party reasons. In Dr Dean's case, just two weeks ago, Dr Dean falsely enrolled not to get an extra vote in his electorate but to deceive the preselectors into thinking that he was a local and that he was not living 20 kilometres away in the leafy suburbs of Melbourne. In fact, he rented this particular property and then never lived there; he was not entitled to be on the roll. The Queenslanders were not entitled to be at the wrong address, Dr Dean was not entitled to be at the wrong address and neither was Mr Rogers. He did not live at Clareville. No evidence has been produced.

Senator Brandis —There is evidence.

Senator ROBERT RAY —I wonder if Justice Rogers—as he then was—would have believed this sort of hearsay evidence of residence himself when he was presiding over a case. Of course, he wouldn't; he would have dismissed it as absolute nonsense. His reasons have been given—no explanation, of course—as to why he basically lied to the Sydney Morning Herald when first confronted. He said that he moved out because they were renovating. His own spouse had to correct the record and say, `Hold on.' He transferred his enrolment basically 11 months after the renovation was completed.

I do not know what his motive was. Some people allege that it was to dodge land tax; I do not know. I find it curious that he would put out a second statement. When these issues were raised in the Senate, all of a sudden he ran to the land tax office and said, `I really shouldn't be registered at Clareville; you should really bill me.' They billed him and he paid it straight away, so there has been no tax dodged at this stage. But why go to Clareville initially? Why put up the false reasons? We want to know why. We know it is not for reasons of direct electoral fraud— none of these cases ever are; there is always some other motive—but where are the witch-hunters on electoral enrolment now? Where is Mr Christopher Pyne, who likes running on these issues? He is dead silent. (Time expired)