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Wednesday, 3 October 1984
Page: 1115


Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition)(3.08) —by leave-I move:

That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) this day, to a Question without Notice asked by Senator Teague on 2 October 1984 relating to the immigration status of Mr S. J. Perry and approaches to the Age newspaper.

The Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) has just indulged himself in his usual verbal gymnastics when he is pouring abuse on the Opposition and anyone who happens to disagree with him. I would like the Senate to contrast his behaviour this afternoon with his behaviour yesterday when he tabled a police report relating to papers tabled in this place by his colleague Senator Walsh. Those papers were thoroughly discredited by the police report. They were described by the police as probably a malicious fabrication. I heard none of the wrath; I heard none of the wonderful, vigorous speech that we have heard today when the Attorney-General was attacking the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Peacock ).


Senator Grimes —What do you think he is-stupid?


Senator CHANEY —In reply to the interjection by the Minister for Social Security , yes; I think he is stupid. I thank the Minister for putting that question to me. I think he is utterly stupid. His behaviour in this place is completely standard. I just want to remind the Senate that for month after month the Attorney-General tolerated the blackening of names of people from this side of the chamber and the moment Mrs Murphy's name was mentioned he scurried off, got a report and brought it into this place to show that this allegation was malicious fabrication. All I can say is that the standards of this Attorney- General are so patently and absurdly inadequate for the office that he holds that he stands yet again condemned out of his own mouth. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Is leave granted?


Senator Gareth Evans —No.


Senator CHANEY —Well, I will keep on talking.


Senator Gareth Evans —The Leader of the Opposition has been denied leave to continue.


Senator CHANEY —That is right. In that case I will keep going.


Senator Gareth Evans —I take a point of order, Mr Deputy President. If the honourable senator has been denied leave to continue his remarks, he can hardly now continue.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —There is no point of order. Asking leave to continue one's remarks is a special way of adjourning debate in the Senate.


Senator CHANEY —I wish therefore to speak in more detail on the matters that I have been talking about. We had a little display here this afternoon from the Attorney-General when because his activities were being challenged, once again he showed a great deal of nervous and other energy in tracking down the facts. He was very anxious to bring into this place a statement which explained his position. We all know the delicate position that is adopted by the Attorney- General in these matters. We all know that he is as man who is beyond reproach. He carries the proud title of Attorney-General. He is the defender of the public interest. He has acknowledged to me that that is his role as Attorney-General. I simply wish to say that there has been no evidence in this place in the last year and a half of the Attorney-General accepting that acknowledgement and understanding the role that he is supposed to play.

I wish to refer to the report which the Attorney-General brought into this place yesterday when he dealt with the allegation that there was some link between Mrs L. Murphy and Christo Moll. We heard the pathetic sorts of excuses that were put out by Senator Walsh when this matter came up for debate. Senator Walsh tried to suggest that there are a lot of L. Murphys in the phone book and not many N. Crichton-Brownes. That was his attempt to excuse himself from the smear evidence. But the Attorney-General really got himself off his tail on this occasion and got the Australian Federal Police to report to him, and it was found that the allegations which linked the wife of Mr Justice Murphy to a Christo Moll cheque stub could not be substantiated and could be malicious fabrications.

We heard no protest at all from the Attorney-General in regard to his ministerial colleague Senator Walsh, who brought into this place not on one occasion but on a series of occasions unsubstantiated allegations. He attempted to smear members of the Liberal Party in Western Australia, using documents which were unable to be verified, and the Attorney-General who has voiced such outrage here this afternoon about the behaviour of the Opposition is himself guilty of the most appalling double standards.

I have said in this place before that the standards which are required of the Attorney-General are different from the standards required of Senator Walsh or of the Minister for Social Security, Senator Grimes or indeed of any other Minister. The Attorney-General has a role which is acknowledged even by him as giving him obligations which go beyond the obligations of partisan politics. What I am saying is that in his conduct in this place Senator Evans shows no understanding at all of those basic obligations. The fact of the matter is that yesterday he allowed without comment a smear to be lifted, a smear which had been repeatedly put down by his colleague, and today he comes in and in his usually extravagant way proceeds to throw a farrago of words at the Opposition to justify his own mean-minded and petty performance. The Opposition is contemptuous of this behaviour on the part of the Government. We were able to censure Minister Walsh for his behaviour when we met a fortnight ago. I think that Senator Evans is moving to the stage where he deserves similar treatment.