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Wednesday, 5 December 1973

Senator GIETZELT (New South Wales) - I do not intend to weary the Senate to any great extent. I leave that chore to Senator Webster who, of course, performs in such a way in this chamber on every other day and who has endeavoured to waste the time of the Senate for half an hour tonight by raising 2 obtuse matters in the adjournment debate. During that time not one member of his own Party- the Australian Country Party- was present in the chamber. Only one member of the Liberal Party of Australia was present. He finally succeeded in driving out even the 4 members of the Australian Democratic Labor Party.

It goes without saying that the honourable senator is not able to assess what has been said over a period of time by Senator McLaren nor is he able to assess what I said when I made my statement on a previous motion for the adjournment of the Senate- only the second time that I have spoken on that motion during my 2.5 years in this place. On that occasion I set out to bring before the people of New South Wales a very serious statement of the situation which in no way has been negated by the very specious and superficial way in which Senator Webster has endeavoured to deal with the situation this evening. Senator Webster, of course, has based the whole of his case on a statutory declaration which may or may not be true and which may or may not have appeared in full or in part in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' of this morning. He is taking it for granted that that is the only statutory declaration. Of course, he does not know all of the circumstances that led to the publication of that statutory declaration.

I want to assure the honourable senators who have read page 1 of the 'Sydney Morning Herald' of this morning that Mr McCaw threatened the newspapers of New South Wales about their publishing of the statutory declaration, as indeed he threatened Mr Pengelly for daring to make any statement in respect of the serious allegations that Mr Pengelly made to me and others in New South Wales about the Barton scandal. It has to be said- the 'Sydney Morning Herald' says it on page 1 of this morning's issue- that 55 companies with which the Barton family was associated in New South Wales have collapsed and $2 5 m of money invested by the public has been lost. The self-same family has skipped the country. It has been indicated in Press reports that the family does not intend to come back to this country to face the music. Of course it is pretty clear that Mr McCaw does not intend to take any steps to have a full inquiry into this matter.

What has happened as far as Mr McCaw is concerned? Has he denied any of the statements that I have made? Has he denied any of the statements that Mr Pengelly has made? No. He has relied upon one of the officers of the Corporate Affairs Commission to get him off the hook. He has made certain statements, but in no way have they negated what I have said in this place nor what Mr Pengelly has said. It has been reported -Senator webster should take this into considerationthat Mr McCaw is said to have claimed that he summoned no officer to his office. Despite Senator Webster's attempts to malign my character in relation to this matter, that question has been very adequately covered in the statutory declaration by Mr Pengelly who said that when he found irregularities associated with the Barton companies he went to McCaw Johnson and Co., solicitors, and that subsequent to the visit to that company he was summoned to the office of the New South Wales AttorneyGeneral. I point out to Senator Webster that that has not been denied. Yet Mr McCaw, according to a newspaper report, has said that he summoned no officer to his office. There is a clear area of grave contradiction in this matter. Mr McCaw has not answered, nor has Mr Ryan answered, the very serious charge that Mr Pengelly has made in the statutory declaration, and this is that section 40 sub-section 5 of the Companies Act of New South Wales was breached by the companies associated with the Barton family. So, in the circumstances, I do not intend to apologise to Mr McCaw and I certainly do not intend to apologise to Senator Webster or to this Senate.

I hope that the matters will be carried forward, either in this place or in the New South Wales Parliament, until the whole sordid story of the collapse of the Barton companies in New South Wales and the loss of millions of dollars of people's money in those companies is finally aired and the people of New South Wales are given an opportunity to know all the circumstances associated with this problem. I feel that much more will be said before all this is properly aired. I hope that the time will come when I will be calling upon Senator Webster to support in this place a proposition for a proper inquiry into the whole Barton affair, including the collapse of the companies and Mr McCaw 's participation in acting as he did, without any contradication, in calling an officer of his Department to his office to discuss this very serious matter in his Department while he was the Attorney-General in New South Wales. So, in these circumstances, I do not feel that I am under any attack. I feel that I acted properly. I think this is the place to bring the matter before the public generally. Mr McCaw threatened to sue the newspapers and threatened to sue Mr Pengelly. It was not until papers were tabled in the New South Wales Parliament yesterday that the newspapers were able to make any further comment on this matter. In these circumstances, I think the sooner there is a public inquiry into all the facets of the Barton case in New South Wales the better it will be for the public of New South Wales.

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