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Thursday, 15 November 1973
Page: 3394

Mr KEATING (Blaxland) - I am glad that the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony) has raised this matter today because it shows just what a shabby, weak person he is. Every member of this House knows that he can use the Commonwealth crest in a private capacity, in a personal letter and in a letter to an elector without any question of ethics being involved. The honourable member for Phillip (Mr Riordan) has just reminded me that the previous Speaker, Sir William Aston, used the crest in his last election campaign. It is the normally accepted thing and the Leader of the Country Party knows it.

There has been talk about corruption in an electioneering campaign. I would like to refer again to the corruption by the Country Party in the State seat of Murray and the offer by its candidate of a bribe to the Labor Party candidate. I commented on this matter a few days ago. I was followed in the debate by the honourable member for Murray (Mr Lloyd) in this House, who said of the Labor candidate for the State seat of Murray that if - I emphasise the word 'if' - he was going around offering his preferences to everybody and if he was happy to sell them, then he would probably do it again. On the basis of that 'if and that concocted allegation, the honourable member for Murray in this place was able to have the Country Party oriented newspapers in the electorate smear the Labor Party candidate, Mr Drew.

I have a tape recording in my hand of the Country Party candidate, Mr Jeffrey, clearly offering a bribe to the Labor Party candidate for the State seat of Murray. I intend to tender this tape to the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy). In raising this matter, I ask the Attorney-General to investigate and give an opinion of it. I have obtained specific and authoritative legal advice in regard to the allegations made against Mr Bruce Jeffrey, the independent Country Party candidate, in relation to the evidence produced. The considered opinion is that there is an open and shut case of bribery and that if this candidate happens to win the seat of Murray he has Buckley's chance of surviving an inquiry by the Court of Disputed Returns, because there is clear evidence of this man's offering the Labor Party candidate a bribe and asking whether $1,000 will be sufficient to get Labor Party preferences to destroy the Liberal Party candidate in the State seat of Murray. It shows just what unity there is between the Country Party and the Liberal Party. The Country Party would not endorse a candidate. It had a public meeting and endorsed an independent candidate so that it could get around the agreement and then it tried to knife the Liberal Party candidate, who is the sitting member, by offering a miserable, filthy bribe to the Labor Party candidate to get-

Mr Hunt - I rise to a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker.

Mr KEATING - Mr Deputy Speaker-

Mr Hunt - Resume your seat.

Mr KEATING - You resume your seat.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Martin)Order!I ask both honourable members to resume their seats. I call the honourable member for Gwydir.

Mr Hunt - I take a point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The speech that the honourable member for Blaxland is making is completely untrue. He has no evidence to substantiate-

Mr KEATING - Here it is. I am going to give it to the Attorney-General.

Mr Hunt - Give it to the Attorney-General and give it to a court. You try to prove-

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! That is not a point of order.

Mr KEATING - Similar frivolous points of order were taken the other night. The slimy tentacles of organised crime now reach from King's Cross right down to the banks of the River Murray and the Askin Government is prepared to sit by. This criminal element in the Country Party knows it can do this and have its progress unchecked by the Askin Government. The fact of the matter is that the Country Party will stop at nothing when it comes to any electoral bribery and corruption; yet the Leader of the Country Party has the hide to come into this place today and talk about campaign letterheads. The Leader of the Country Party has used his public office to send out pamphlets and letters. There was a great scream a few years ago in the Public Service because public servants objected to having to prepare campaign literature for Sir John McEwen and the Country Party. They have abused their positions in ministries and they know it. Not only that, but also when they get down to basic electoral matters they want to abuse the rights of the electors of Murray by offering a $1,000 bribe to the

Australian Labor Party candidate to destroy the Liberal Party candidate for that seat. To the credit of the Liberal Party, in the adjoining seat of Temora, it has put out a how-to-vote card giving its preferences to the Country Party. But the Country Party is not honouring its commitment. If the Country Party can get out of its commitment by a little shady deal on the side, it will do so.

Members of the Country Party held a meeting of the State organisation of the Country Party within the State seat of Murray. They decided that they could not endorse a Country Party candidate so they left that meeting and went to a public meeting and endorsed that same man as the independent Country Party candidate. So, of course, that same fellow then ran around to the Labor candidate and offered him a bribe. That is the Country Party for you and yet the Leader of the Country Party comes in here today and tries to smear a Minister - an honest man - because he happens to use his public office to support a candidate in another seat. He is entitled to use that office, as everybody knows. The Leader of the Country Party talked about the staff of the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) but the Leader of the Country Party and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Snedden) have a staff that is bigger than any Opposition Leader has ever had before in this House. They have been more than fairly treated. In my view, they have been too kindly treated. Let us look at the cronyism in which honourable members opposite have engaged. Members of the Liberal and Country Parties talk about friends of the Labor Party getting jobs, but let us look at some of the former members of the Liberal Party who have been placed in jobs. Honourable members opposite made Sir Paul Hasluck Governor-General. They made Mr Chaney Administrator of the Northern Territory. Gordon Freeth was made Ambassador to Japan. Sir Garfield Barwick was made Chief Justice of the High Court.

Mr Sinclair - Mr Deputy Speaker, I raise a point of order. I believe it is against the Standing Orders of this House for any inference to be made against the personal representative of Her Majesty in .Australia. The personal representative of Her Majesty is no longer in any way associated with any political party and I ask the honourable member to withdraw that remark and that inference.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -I did not hear any remark relating to the representative of

HerMajesty, but if the honourable member for Blaxland did make such a remark I ask him to withdraw it.

Mr Sinclair - He mentioned the GovernorGeneral by name.

Mr KEATING - There was no imputation against the Governor-General. I was merely pointing out that the present Governor-General was at one stage a member of the previous Government.

Mr Sinclair - Mr Deputy Speaker,I take a point of order. The honourable gentleman referred to the political associations of the present Governor-General.

Mr KEATING - He was appointed by you.

Mr Sinclair - That is a direct reference in a way which is contrary to the Standing Orders of this Parliament and I ask that the honourable member withdraw.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -If the honourable member for Blaxland made any reflection on the Governor-General, I ask him to withdraw.

Mr KEATING - If there was any personal imputation in what I said, I withdraw it. But I also referred to other people appointed by the previous Government. Sir Garfield Barwick was appointed to the position of Chief Justice of the High Court. Bill Arthur, the former honourable member for St George, was appointed by Prime Minister Gorton to his personal staff. Mr McKinnon is another example. The list is a hundred long, if one looked hard at it. It is cronyism at its worst and honourable members opposite have been experts at it for 23 years. All the boards of statutory corporations are loaded with tories and I see it as one of the roles of this Party in the next decade in office to remove all these characters from these boards and appoint some impartial people. So, there is no basis for the charges made by the Leader of the Country Party. It is just another example of the depths of degradation to which the Country Party will sink in order to achieve any miserable little political gain.

I refer again to the State seat of Murray and the scandalous allegations made by the honourable member for Murray in this place last week when he said: 'If this Labor Party candidate offers preferences.' He said 'If. He made no specific charge because he can make none. But I was referring to a specific allegation with a tape recording to prove it and

I have asked the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth to investigate the matter. Because the Country Party is in league with the newspapers in that electorate, the spurious allegation of the honourable member for Murray received coverage while the matter to which I referred, relating to the bribe offered to the Labor Party candidate, did not gain any prominent position in that newspaper. If members of the Country Party wish to persist with this corruption and bribery, we will have the Attorney-General investigate it and the matter will be taken to the Court of Disputed Returns in New South Wales. I publicly ask the Chief Electoral Officer for New South Wales to disallow the candidature of Mr Jeffery in this election for the State seat of Murray.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! It being 12.45 p.m., in accordance with standing order 106, I put the question:

That grievances be noted.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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