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Wednesday, 3 October 1984
Page: 1113

Senator GARETH EVANS —Yesterday Senator Teague asked me two questions about the Perry matter, another piece of Opposition humbug. I would like to supplement the answers I gave to clarify and complete the public record. His first question was whether I or anyone from my office had advised Mr Perry of approaches made to me by the Age on 18 June concerning the representations I made to the Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs on Mr Perry's behalf which were, of course, the subject of a full statement in this place on 13 September last. As to that question, yesterday I said 'no', as to myself, and 'I believe not' as to my staff. I can now confirm, having checked with my present and former staff, that no such communication of any kind was made.

The second question put to me by Senator Teague was whether I knew of approaches to the Age by Mr Perry himself with respect to the Age story, which approaches may have led the Age, as Senator Teague said, to change its security system. Yesterday I said that I had a recollection of reading somewhere, perhaps in the Age, about such an approach by Mr Perry but I could not give any details as to it. I am now able to say that where I read this was not, in fact, in the Age but in two statements by Mr Peacock. First of all, there was Mr Peacock's infamous little crook speech on 13 September, which he will now have a nice long retirement to regret. At page 1,255 of the House of Representatives Hansard of 13 September Mr Peacock stated, referring in the first instance to me as Attorney-General:

Did he speak to Chadwick or to Perry? He did.

That is a lie, as I have made clear in my own statement in this place. He continued:

Is that why Perry went to the Age and menaced-

Senator Chaney —I raise a point of order. It is still unparliamentary in this place, if not in the other place, to use that kind of language. I suggest that it be withdrawn.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —The Attorney-General should withdraw that remark.

Senator GARETH EVANS —I withdraw the expression 'lie' and substitute 'untruth'. I proceed as follows with the quotation:

is that why Perry went to the Age and menaced reporters, threatening them, the day after Senator Evans spoke to editor Burns?

The second passage I have turned up was in an interview conducted by Mike Willesee with Mr Peacock on 24 September in which the following exchange occurred. Mr Willesee said:

. . . you're talking about Mr Stuart Perry, I presume?

Mr Peacock replied:

That's right.

Mr Willesee continued:

You call him a 'hit man' without giving evidence of him being a 'hit man' which is against our natural approach to justice. You specifically said that he'd threatened and menaced 2 Age reporters who went to the Age and the Editor. Mr Creighton Burns, said that was not true.

Mr Peacock replied:

Well let me say in answer to that, Michael, that the evidence led at the Royal Commission itself described him ''as a totally professional criminal''. Now you can interpret that any way you like, but that was before the Costigan Royal Commission . . .

Mr Willesee said:

Yes, he admits that he was a criminal . . .

Mr Peacock continued:

. . . beyond that you might ask the editor of the Age whether he wrote a letter regarding statements made by Mr Perry to his journalists, to the Victorian Police and you might ask whether there was any upgrading of the security of the Age after that call by Mr Perry on one of the journalists. I'll say no more because we're both constrained somewhat here . . .

That is what I vaguely recalled having seen yesterday. There we have two statements on the public record, one quite explicitly, the other impliedly, saying that Mr Perry had gone to the Age threatening and menacing journalists. To complete the public record on this matter and to demonstrate once again the incapacity of Mr Peacock even to begin to lie straight in bed when it comes to these matters, I put on the public record the following communication from the Age to the Willesee program on 17 September. I put that communication on the public record with the consent of the editor, Mr Burns. The statement, which was communicated to the Willesee program, reads:

The editor of the Age, Mr Creighton Burns, said tonight that Mr Perry came to the Age office and spoke to reporter, Lindsay Murdoch, and the day editor, Patrick Boyce. Lindsay Murdoch had some days earlier spoken to Mr Perry on the telephone in relation to a story he was working on.

Mr Perry explained to Murdoch and Boyce the reasons for his approach to Senator Evans through Storeman and Packers Union official, Mr Ron Chadwick. He made no threats and did not menace them. However he said that he would be unhappy if the Age would have published a story which he saw as unfairly prejudicing an application for a visa.

That was signed 'Creighton Burns'. I think, yet again, that places on record the utter incapacity of Mr Peacock to stick to the truth and to anything resembling decency and fair play when it comes to smearing, innuendoes and claims about Australian Labor Party associations with organised crime. I hope that Senator Teague will accordingly express his regrets for having raised the matter in the way that he did yesterday.