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Thursday, 24 May 1973
Page: 2671


Dr KLUGMAN (Prospect) - I rise tonight to discuss an issue which worries me slightly. Honourable members who were in this Parliament during 1971 and those who were not then members may recall that Sir Frank Packer, who was then not only a newspaper owner but also the owner of a number of television stations, took it upon himself to remove from office the then Prime Minister and Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, Mr John Gorton. He had extreme power then in the Liberal Party. Although Sir Frank Packer has now sold the daily and Sunday newspapers that he published in Sydney - the Daily Telegraph' and 'Sunday Telegraph' - he still exerts a considerable amount of influence through his television stations and magazines.

I notice that Sir Frank Packer's hatchet man, Mr David McNicoll, has a full page article in one of Sir Frank Packer's publications, the 'Bulletin' of 26 May 1973, which has just gone on sale. He tells us that the Liberal Party in New South Wales will remove a number of its present members in this House. Knowing Mr David McNicoll and Sir Frank Packer, it is interesting to note the names of the people at whom Mr McNicoll has pointed his finger. These are the people whom his hatchet man says will be removed from this House - no matter what our views may be of them as members of this Parliament. I should like to read a part of the article that Mr McNicoll has written. He states:

There's a great deal of movement behind the scenes in Liberal circles. The big wheels are in action, and there will certainly be some major changes before the next election.

The emphasis will be on putting top quality men into blue ribbon seats, some of which are currently occupied by members who are too old, or too ineffective.

I think many of us probably would agree with that. He continues:

The moves will be aimed at upsetting past methods of pre-selection, whereby party adherents and little old ladies belonging to Liberal branches could swing a_ candidate into the No. 1 position - no matter what his lack of qualifications might be. In future, only top quality men will get the selection.

In other words, they will be people of whom Sir Frank Packer approves. I have no doubt that is his definition of 'top quality men'.; David McNicoll continues:

Destined for the chop: Sir John Cramer (Bennelong), aged in the wood, and due for the sweet pastures of retirement; Leslie Bury (Wentworth), a first class parliamentarian in his day, and a nice chap, but over the hill politically; H. B. Turner (Bradfield), one of the most effective back-benchers in the House, but thinking of retirement which he should do as soon as possible; Bruce Graham (North Sydney), decent and hardworking, but not sufficiently hot quality to occupy a blue ribbon seat. And there is much talk that Bill Wentworth (Mackellar) is thinking of turning politics in - this would mean another blue ribbon seat becoming available.

I do not know who Sir Frank Packer's picks are for those seats. I know that for the seat of Bennelong he has lined up Peter Coleman who at present is the M.L.A. for a State seat which undoubtedly he will lose in the forthcoming State elections unless the redistribution adds half of Mr McCaw's seat of Lane Cove to the present seat of Fuller.


Mr Giles - I wonder whether it will be like Victoria.


Dr KLUGMAN - Even with the changes between the 1970 election and the last election in Victoria, Fuller would go. David McNicoll continues:

One difficulty in getting the top men required is, that they would, in some cases, have to make a financial sacrifice to go into politics. There is serious discussion about ways in which parliamentary salary, could be supplemented by the party in such cases.

This is an interesting point that David McNicoll makes on behalf of Sir Frank Packer. Sir Frank Packer is obviously putting up the proposition that he is prepared to kick in some money to persuade people to enter Parliament. I take it that it will be some of. the $15m, if I remember correctly, that he received from the sale of his 'Daily Telegraph' and 'Sunday Telegraph' newspapers. He is there making an offer to the Liberal Party: If the Liberal Party will get rid of the people mentioned by David McNicoll, there will be money available - and money is available, of course, to Sir Frank Packer in large quantities. It will be given to those people, and no doubt it will be given to other people who co-operate with Sir Frank Packer in getting rid of those people.

I think that it behoves all of us, as people who are interested in parliamentary government, to watch what will happen in those areas, especially in the case of those members who are not keen to retire. What kind of offers will be made either to the new members who would replace the existing members in those seats or to the existing members to retire gracefully? I think that it is important for the parliamentary process to make quite sure that there is no interference in the method of preselection by people who have huge amounts of money at their disposal with which to buy and sell parliamentary seats - blue ribbon seats, as David McNicoll calls them. We have seen what is happening in the United States at the present time.


Mr Martin - The Watergate affair.


Dr KLUGMAN -I am referring not only to the Watergate case but also to the related sorts of scandals where people have offered large amounts of money to politicians, especially Republican politicians, in order to exert undue influence on the government.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! It being 11 p.m., the House stands adjourned until 10 a.m. tomorrow.







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