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Wednesday, 3 October 1984
Page: 1116

Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(3.14) —I will speak very briefly on this motion. There are lots of things I can say but I should not burden the Senate with the full force of my reply. I will simply make a couple of points. The Crichton-Browne allegations that were made in this place about his connection with the cheque stubs in question were not at any stage, as I recall, the subject of an express or explicit request from either the senator concerned, Senator Crichton-Browne, or from Senator Chaney, that there be an immediate specific police report.

Senator Crichton-Browne —Because there was already a police inquiry under way, and the Attorney-General knows it. Says so; tell the truth for a change. Go on, Red Beard.

Senator GARETH EVANS —That may be the reason why the honourable senator was happy to wait. That may be the reason why he felt that his reputation was not so much at risk that he did not want to pursue the matter immediately. I simply draw the Senate's attention to the difference between that state of affairs when no such request was made for any immediate report, inquiry or vindication, if such were possible, of the honourable senator's name, and the situation which confronted me when I was requested for such an immediate investigation and an immediate police report, a request which I put before the Senate within minutes of its having been made to me. When that request was received I specifically asked that there be a report made back to me through the Special Minister of State (Mr Young) on the progress of the ongoing police investigations in relation to the Moll affair, both in relation to the Ingrid Murphy allegation and to the extent that the same factual questions seemed to be raised by it on the matter of Senator Crichton-Browne. When that report was received by me I put the answer down yesterday in language that was moderate in the extreme-I believe even Senator Chaney will acknowledge that-to the extent that I did not in any way seek to calumnify Senator Chaney for dragging into the Senate under cover of privilege the Murphy affair.

Senator Chaney —I did not. That is a misrepresentation.

Senator GARETH EVANS —Senator Chaney was the person who raised the Murphy diamond matter and expressed indignation about that state of affairs and wanted to know what was being done about it. Senator Chaney was not content to let the matter rest in the Press where it had been mentioned that morning. He was the one who wanted to raise it as a national issue in this Parliament. Obviously the motives for doing so are exactly the same as the motives that have led the Opposition to raise the matter of Sala, have led the Opposition to raise the matter of Saffron and have led the Opposition to raise accordingly the matter of Moll. Anything is good enough to throw against the name of Mr Justice Murphy. There are matters in which that learned gentleman is now defending himself before processes established by this place, and I make no comment about those. I do however make a comment about the way in which systematically that man's name has been attempted to be dragged through the mud by smear and innuendo of the kind that has proved in the past to be utterly unsubstantiated.

The Sala affair and the Saffron affair have both been the subject of full investigations. Now, too, the Moll diamond affair has been the subject of investigations. But intensely or as passionately as I may have felt about the squalid character of Senator Chaney's introduction of that issue into the parliamentary forum, I made no adverse comment about that yesterday in putting down my reply. It would not have been appropriate under the circumstances to make an adverse comment about anyone else whose allegations might equally have been thought to be the subject of that investigation. The charge is utterly without substance and utterly without foundation. The difference between my reaction to this matter and the performance put on by the Leader of the Opposition in hurling around smear, innuendo and filth is plain for all the world to see and needs, I believe, no further elaboration.

Debate (on motion by Senator Reid) adjourned.