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Tuesday, 29 August 2000
Page: 19583

Mr EMERSON (10:23 PM) —I draw the attention of the House to an advertisement in a local newspaper in my electorate of Rankin, the Albert and Logan News, of 16 August this year which says:

Liberal-minded Australians are invited to join the Liberal Party branches located in the federal seat of Rankin: Acacia Ridge to Forest Lake, south to Greenbank, east to Slacks Creek, north to Sunnybank Hills.

This advertisement was authorised by the state director of the Liberal Party, Graham Jaeschke. I have here a map of the seat of Rankin. The first two branches that are mentioned in this advertisement inviting people to join the Liberal Party are at Forest Lake in the seat of Oxley and Acacia Ridge in the seat of Oxley. The Liberals have a lot of trouble finding the seat of Rankin, except of course when it comes to branch stacking. On that matter, the newly arrived Senator Brandis is a world-famous branch stacker. It is well known that Senator Brandis needed 10 extra FEC votes to ensure his preselection into the Senate. That preselection was delayed conveniently by colleagues, friends and allies of his faction in the Liberal Party until they were able to hive off members from the neighbouring Moreton FEC to form a Rankin FEC. Those members were hived off, a Rankin FEC was formed, the 10 members were duly elected, and I am reliably informed that they all voted for Senator Brandis. So he became the endorsed candidate for the Senate and now he is in the Senate.

Then, unbelievably, the Liberal Party put Senator Brandis in charge of an antistacking committee. As a colleague of mine in the state parliament said, it is like putting Christopher Skase in charge of the Spanish extradition laws. I refer to two newspaper articles—I could refer to many more—and the first is an article on 14 August in the Courier-Mail headed `Tamper claim mars poll'. It says:

Former Queensland Liberal president Bob Tucker was elected yesterday to a powerful position within the party, but not without controversy.

Mr Tucker is in the western suburbs faction of the Queensland Liberal Party. The article continues:

Mr Tucker, new chairman of the influential electorate council for the federal seat of Ryan, was elected alongside outspoken rival Michael Johnson, who will be his senior vice-chairman.

But it is understood Penny Behan, who stood for chairman on the ticket with Mr Johnson, will challenge the result after vote-tampering suspicions were voiced.

Penny Behan is in the Santoro-Carroll faction of the Liberal Party. The article continues:

Mr Johnson—known for his ill-fated bid to unseat Ryan MP and Defence Minister John Moore earlier this year—said he was `intensely disappointed' other members of his ticket were not elected.

There is a second article in the Australian of 15 August headed `Vote-rigging claim in Moore's Lib branch', and it says:

The Queensland Liberal Party faces vote-rigging allegations, with about a dozen ballot papers quarantined from the weekend's battle for control of Defence Minister John Moore's Ryan federal electorate council.

Penny Behan—who lost the ballot ... yesterday threatened legal action over the electorate.

In her letter to the state director of the Liberal Party, the authoriser of the advertisement in my seat of Rankin, Ms Behan's lawyers warned Graham Jaeschke against destroying the ballot papers. As stated in the article, the letter says:

`Approximately one dozen ballot papers have been altered and this fact has been verified by two party vice-presidents who where also present at the counting,' the letter said. `We advise that these ballot papers could potentially be evidence in any future court action.'

State Liberal vice-president Robin Fardoulys, who was present at the ballot, yesterday confirmed he had asked for the party's constitutional rules committee to examine the votes.

I hope that that is not the same committee—the antistacking committee—that is being chaired by Senator Brandis. Senator Brandis came into the Senate very recently. In his maiden speech, he spoke very nobly, using words such as `spirit', `civil liberty', `free society' and `equality of opportunity' and, one day later, he started dropping buckets. I say to Senator Brandis: if it lasts only one day, then there is probably not much in the spirit and in the heart. Surely as a senator he has something to contribute to this place instead of coming into the place and dropping buckets on people. Senator Brandis is in charge of this antistacking committee, which I am advised has never met—and I do not think people should hold their breath too long for it to meet. Senator Brandis is going for the world champion, Olympic gold branch stacking medal, and I understand he is an early favourite. (Time expired)