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Monday, 19 September 1994
Page: 882

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —Mr President, I claim to have been misrepresented. I seek leave to make a personal explanation.

  Leave granted.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —In the Western Australian state parliament on Thursday evening of last week, the Hon. John Halden, who is a member of the Legislative Council, tabled a document to which he spoke at some length. The document was headed `Liberals against anti-semitism'. At the bottom of the document, which contained a lot of nonsense, were three initials—NCB—followed by my home telephone number and my office telephone number.

  Mr Halden went on to give a lengthy, vitriolic and filthy speech which implied that, if anyone wanted to know something about this body, they rang my home or my office. He went on to give a long speech about the League of Rights, what the League of Rights believes in, what the League of Rights represents and what it purports to stand for. I have to say that his knowledge was considerably greater than mine.

  Mr Halden asserted that I was associated with what could be described as a Jew hating organisation. I could think of no more despicable, disgraceful or filthy political conduct than to first of all manufacture a document which represents no association, ensure that somebody's initials are at the bottom of it and then print on it that person's known, published home and work telephone numbers. And it says, `For further details contact NCB' and then the numbers.

  Mr Halden did not much care to inquire and learn that I am a member of the Israeli-Australian Parliamentary Friendship Association, I have been an official guest of the Israelis in their country, I visited the Wailing Wall when members of his party would not because of the politics involved in who owned that part of Jerusalem, and have had a long association with the Jewish community.

  This was in part, I suspect, intended to reflect upon the by-election, except to say the by-election was already over. So I am looking for a better reason; I cannot find one. The last time Mr Halden tabled a document, to my knowledge, in the Western Australian parliament, it was a petition presented to him by a gentleman. That petition resulted in a committee of the parliament finding it to be utterly untrue. The person whom it was meant to damage committed suicide.

Senator Faulkner —Mr President, on a point of order. I am not keen to stop a personal explanation by a senator who claims to have been misrepresented. Senator Crichton-Browne was canvassing a particular issue where he claimed—

Senator Ian Macdonald —Sit down you fool.

Senator Faulkner —Just listen. Senator Crichton-Browne claims to have been misrepresented. But to now go on to other—

Senator Ian Macdonald —Sit down you fool.

The PRESIDENT —Order! A point of order is being raised.

Senator Faulkner —My point of order is this: I believe that it is not proper for Senator Crichton-Browne to raise—

Senator Michael Baume —To demonstrate that this bloke is a crook.

Senator Faulkner —No, to raise other issues pertaining to this; there are plenty of other forums in this Senate to do that. I am merely making the point of order that, if Senator Crichton-Browne claims to have been misrepresented, he ought to limit his comments to that particular issue. I think that is a proper point of order and I would ask you to rule in support of it.

The PRESIDENT —I think it is a valid point of order, and I would ask you to keep your comments within the framework of your claim to have been misrepresented.

Senator Abetz —Mr President, on a point of order. Does your ruling therefore mean that, if somebody drops a bucket on a fellow senator, that senator, in defending himself or herself, is not entitled to reflect on the person who threw the bucket? I think that is an outrageous ruling.

The PRESIDENT —No, it does not mean that at all.

Senator Abetz —In that case I would ask you to change your ruling and allow Senator Crichton-Browne to continue.

The PRESIDENT —If I were to use a loose ruling in cases like this, people would be able to use that privilege of the parliament to make a personal explanation to make all sorts of attacks on all sorts of people; we would spend the whole time of parliament doing that. I am simply asking Senator Crichton-Browne to keep his comments as precisely to that point as possible, and I am sure he will accede to that request.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —I will, Mr President. I was seeking to establish the credibility of the person who made this attack on me. Without breaching your ruling, Mr President, I am sure you would understand that in these circumstances people ought to have at least a modicum of opportunity to defend themselves. The last person that Mr Halden attacked committed suicide—a young lady who could take it no more. That is not the norm of people who find themselves under attack.

  Mr Halden can test the veracity of what he said about me by venturing outside the chamber and repeating it. I do not say that lightly or glibly because that is what we all say under these circumstances. But when Mr Halden makes an attack of that nature, the facts of which can be easily and clearly established, he has an ideal opportunity to establish his own integrity and the integrity of his claims.

  With respect, Mr Halden has no intention of doing that because he was not intending to present facts or the truth. He was intending to do that for which he has a notorious reputation, that is, to smear and besmirch the reputation of other people for intended and hurtful political gain. As long as the Western Australian opposition conducts itself in that way, it will stay in opposition.