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Senator comments on his appeal against expulsion from the Liberal Party

PETER THOMPSON: Another person who might have to present his ID card is one Senator Noel Crichton-Browne who tomorrow will make final submissions to the Western Australian Liberal Party in a bid to prevent his expulsion. He'll be a stranger in the place.

Senator Crichton-Browne was suspended shortly after he made comments to a newspaper journalist which were considered by Premier Richard Court and other Liberals as highly inappropriate. Senator Crichton-Browne told Pru Goward he's done nothing wrong and expects to be reinstated at the party meeting tomorrow.

NOEL CRICHTON-BROWNE: No doubt, there are some people going with preconceived bias and ill will in their souls, but they're a small handful of people who, in many respects, have brought us to where we are now, but the vast majority of State Council are very decent, honest people. They understand that they have to find the grounds on fact and not be influenced in a political sense.

PRU GOWARD: What do you think your strongest ground of appeal is, factually?

NOEL CRICHTON-BROWNE: Well, first of all, let me say this. The grounds are clearly contrived, they're concocted, they're trivial and they have been designed to suit an agenda, and the agenda is, for reasons best known to himself, one where the President would seek to have me expelled. I suspect he thinks that by expelling Crichton-Browne that the trouble-makers from the Left who have damaged the party so much through the media will cease their conduct, but of course, we all know that to award treachery is only to ensure that it continues.

PRU GOWARD: So what you're saying is that threatening somebody, even in a joking way to screw their tits off, is not grounds for expulsion, but would you agree that what's really bothered people like David Honey is the impression that you run that branch and have run it unfairly? That's really what they're on about.

NOEL CRICHTON-BROWNE: Well, to take up your first point, the claim is not what I said to Ms Egan. The complaint essentially is that it became a public matter and, therefore, brought odium to the party. Now, you can hardly blame me for it being made public because it was a private conversation between two people, peddled to the media by another person in the Liberal Party. You can hardly shoot the victim for that.

PRU GOWARD: And what you're saying is that other people say those sorts of things and belong to the Liberal Party?

NOEL CRICHTON-BROWNE: It was Reg Withers that said on television, the other day, that Paul Keating says much worse things in the Parliament, and he's not been expelled. What I'm saying is, seen in black and white and outside the ambience in which the conversation took place and taken out of the jocular sense in which the frivolity was prevailing, it does sound crude - and I accept that - but it was a private conversation which was not meant to be reported, and the journalist in question herself refused to report it because it was off the record.

PRU GOWARD: Senator Crichton-Browne, is it still clear to you that if you lose your appeal on Saturday before the party, that you will automatically take the matter to court?

NOEL CRICHTON-BROWNE: Well, I think that's asking me to answer a hypothetical question, but in respect to matters of law, clearly the Supreme Court is the forum where one can be most certain of receiving a sophisticated and objective response to one's complaint.

PRU GOWARD: Senator Crichton-Browne, do you accept that if Council upheld your appeal tomorrow, that essentially, the State executive would have to resign - and that includes David Honey, the President, because essentially it would be a vote of no confidence in them - and in a way, so will Richard Court, because he too has said that your behaviour is unacceptable in the Liberal Party?

NOEL CRICHTON-BROWNE: Well, no. The Constitution provides that in the event anybody is agreed that a disciplinary motion carried by State executive - that they're entitled and eligible to appeal under clause 17 of the Constitution to State Council. Now, that provision is deliberately put there to ensure that proper relief is provided where there has been, in the view of the appellant, a failure of the system. Now, that's not a question of making judgments about the competence or the confidence of that executive. It simply is a forum to allow their decision to be reviewed?

PRU GOWARD: But why isn't it? I mean, you've been around politics long enough to know that of course this would be a vote of no confidence in the executive. I mean, they have made this - David Honey, in particular, has made this a big test issue.

NOEL CRICHTON-BROWNE: Well, frankly, David Honey's made the whole matter a big issue, and the reason it's a big issue is because he seems to spend all his time talking to the press about it, and sadly that, in some way, has driven the publicity. But I don't believe it's a test for David Honey. It's not a test for the Premier; it's not a test for me. All that the test was, is the workings and the mechanisms of the Liberal Party in the proper process.

PRU GOWARD: And how silly would John Howard look if his State Council upheld you staying a member of the party?

NOEL CRICHTON-BROWNE: Well, I don't think he'd look silly, but there's always been a golden rule in the Liberal Party and that is that Federal leaders keep out of the domestic affairs of the State branches.

PRU GOWARD: So he'd look silly.

NOEL CRICHTON-BROWNE: Well, no, I didn't say he'd look silly.

PRU GOWARD: I apologise, Senator.

Now, just finally, there must be a compromise. As I understand it, the other side would like you to accept a temporary suspension. Are you prepared to do that and is there some compromise that you think they should consider?

NOEL CRICHTON-BROWNE: Well, to compromise, in many respects, means that I'm a little bit guilty, and frankly, I am not guilty of anything deserving of any disciplinary action whatsoever.

PETER THOMPSON: Senator Noel Crichton-Browne with Pru Goward, and he's appealing against his expulsion from the Liberal Party tomorrow.