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Tuesday, 10 December 2002
Page: 7634


Senator REID (10:30 PM) —I speak briefly tonight to incorporate a press statement of the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator the Hon. Christopher Ellison, relating to the finalisation of a matter that had been taken against former senator Winston Crane and has now been concluded in accordance with the statement of Senator Ellison dated 13 November 2002. The matter had been going on for approximately four years. The Senate became involved with it particularly in relation to a judgment handed down by His Honour Mr Justice French in Crane v. Gething on 18 February 2000, as a result of which many documents were delivered to the Clerk of the Senate in paper and electronic form on 29 September 2000. The Senate, by resolution on 5 December 2000, appointed Mr Stephen Skehill SC to examine and report to the President as to which documents were classified as privileged and which were not. The order was varied by the Senate on 8 August 2001, and the report was made to the President and tabled on 27 August 2001 with Mr Skehill's conclusions.

I do not wish to discuss the background of the case in detail, other than to comment on the fact that it took a very long time to resolve. There was some difference of opinion between Mr Crane and the commissioner of police as to why that was so. Mr Crane expressed the view that an administrative audit of his claims should have been held much earlier. The Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, Mr Keelty, was quoted in an article by Mr Mark Mallabone in the West Australian of 15 November 2002 as saying that it was claiming privilege which caused the matter to take longer than it might otherwise have done. The unfortunate thing about that article is the heading `Crane “to blame” for long travel rort probe'.

As the matter has been before the Senate by resolution and has been raised in estimates committees on several occasions, I thought it appropriate for the record to conclude with the statement of the Minister for Justice and Customs dated 13 November 2002, which ends, `Former Senator Crane has been cleared of any wrongdoing in this matter and it is now concluded.' I seek leave to incorporate the statement in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows—

SENATOR CRANE INVESTIGATION FINALISED

The Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, today announced that the Australian Federal Police had concluded its investigation into the alleged misuse of travel entitlements by former Senator Winston Crane.

Following its extensive inquiries into the matter the AFP forwarded a Brief of Evidence to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP).

After reviewing the Brief of Evidence, the CDPP concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations against Senator Crane.

The AFP has now concluded its investigation.

“Former Senator Crane has been cleared of any wrongdoing in this matter and it is now concluded,” Senator Ellison said.