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Wednesday, 21 November 2012
Page: 9388


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (15:04): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Minister for Foreign Affairs (Senator Bob Carr) to a question without notice asked by Senator Fierravanti-Wells today relating to corruption and foreign bribery.

In doing that, I note that Senator Carr was asked yesterday and today to deny that the state government he led was corrupt and that it took all of six questions for Senator Carr to get around to actually saying that the government he led in New South Wales was not corrupt. That in itself raises some questions, as do Senator Carr's very short, curt and, if I might say, embarrassed answers to questions raised of him today. He took the coward's way out in the first two questions simply by saying that they were not relevant to him.

Senator Sterle: You are a grub.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Why—do you disagree, Senator Sterle, with my description of the response to—

Senator Brandis: Mr Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. Senator Sterle should be required to withdraw that unparliamentary interjection to Senator Macdonald.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Brandis. I was about to ask Senator Macdonald if he would withdraw his remark about Senator Carr and Senator Sterle if he would withdraw his remark about Senator Macdonald.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I am not quite sure what remark it was, but I withdraw whatever it was that was offensive.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Macdonald. Senator Sterle, would you do the same thing.

Senator Sterle: Mr Deputy President, I am honoured to withdraw that remark.

Senator IAN MACDONALD: I return to the point I was making. Senator Carr's answers today showed lack of courage in any response to the questions asked of him. He took the easy way out of saying they were not related to him when, quite clearly, the question was how Senator Carr can lecture other countries about lack of corruption when it is suggested that he presided over a state government which is now being demonstrated to have been very, very corrupt.

I might take this opportunity while I have the floor on this issue to remind people who might be listening that while my name is Ian Macdonald and while I was some years ago a minister in the federal government, I am not the minister Ian Macdonald currently being referred to in the ICAC inquiry. Some of the allegations coming out in the ICAC inquiry—and I acknowledge that so far no-one has been convicted of anything—are such that I think the most uneducated observer would have to be concerned at the relationship between my namesake Mr Ian Macdonald, then the minister for mines, and Mr Eddie Obeid, whose family ended up with quite lucrative pieces of land following some decisions by my namesake Mr Macdonald on coal leases.

Why the question was asked of Senator Carr today was that the people who are featuring prominently in the ICAC inquiry were all ministers who were there when Senator Carr was the Premier of that state and the leader of the Labor Party. It was Senator Carr who promoted people like Mr Obeid and my namesake Mr Macdonald. I have to say that I met my namesake Ian Macdonald once or twice and he seemed to me to be quite a nice guy. I have to say also that I thought that about Bob Collins when he was a senator in this place and I thought that about Mr Gordon Nuttall, who I had a couple of dealings with when we were both ministers, I federally and he in the Queensland government.

Senator Di Natale: You're obviously not a good judge of character!

Senator IAN MACDONALD: Yes, you are quite right: I am not a good judge of character because I was quite easily fooled. Clearly, Senator Carr is also not a very good judge of character because, Senator Di Natale, Senator Bob Carr promoted these people in his government and put them in positions where the sorts of things that we read about in the paper at the present time were allowed to happen. So the question that is raised is: how can Senator Carr go round lecturing Third World countries about corruption and decency in government when those that he lectures only have to look back and see the type of government that he led?