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Wednesday, 23 August 1972
Page: 314

Senator GEORGES (QUEENSLAND) - I direct my question to the Minister for Works. Since he and the Attorney-General are so concerned about upholding the law and are so strongly against intimidation, can he, as a

Minister of the Government, explain how it was possible for a leading stockbroker, a Mr Dowling of Patrick Partners, to successfully intimidate the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in New South Wales on the matter of a tax assessment? Is it not a fact that Patrick Partners received an assessment in respect of millions of dollars gained through a bond washing operation? Is it not a fact that Mr Dowling, when he received this assessment, told the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in New South Wales that he would see the Prime Minister, and that he did make such an appointment? Is it not a further fact that, this having been made known to the Deputy Commissioner, the Deputy Commissioner then contacted Mr Dowling and told him that the assessment would be withdrawn? I ask the Minister: If the Government is so strong for upholding the law and is so strong for supporting the proposition that the law should be upheld by all, what action does the Government intend to take to investigate the allegation 1 am now making - that there has been an attempt on the part of Mr Dowling, of Patrick Partners, to intimidate the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation in New South Wales, and that in fact he succeeded in doing so?

Senator WRIGHT - I rise with a sense of pity in my spirit to think that there should be-

Senator Keeffe - How much did you get out of it?

The ACTING PRESIDENT (Senator Wood) - Order! Before we proceed any further I want to draw attention to the remark made by Senator Keeffe. He asked the Minister how much did he get out of it; did he get a drawback. I ask Senator Keeffe-

Senator Willesee - He did not say that.

The ACTING PRESIDENT- Yes, he did. I ask him to withdraw that remark.

Senator Keeffe - You do not even know that 1 was speaking to Senator Wright, Mr Acting President. As far as I am concerned the remark was not intended in that manner.

The ACTING PRESIDENT - I want you to know that I am sitting in this chair and I heard it very clearly. I know what you referred to and I ask you to withdraw that remark.

Senator Keeffe - What for?

The ACTING PRESIDENT- Even if you meant any senator in this chamber-

Senator Keeffe - What remark? What remark? Mr Acting President, I am asking you to state to me what remark I must withdraw.

The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! I have already stated the remark. I ask you to withdraw it.

Senator Keeffe - I am not going to withdraw something when you will not tell me what it is.

The ACTING PRESIDENT- I have already mentioned the remark.

Senator Keeffe - What are the words?

Senator Wright - I rise to order. I wish to be heard to say that the honourable senator, as I rose, asked the question: 'How much did he get out of it?' That clearly implies participation in corruption. I rise to affirm that the honour of this chamber demands that the remark be withdrawn.

The ACTING PRESIDENT- Senator Keeffe. 1 ask that the remark be withdrawn.

Senator Keeffe - I ask Senator Wright to prove that I was talking about him. I was not.

The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! It was clearly indicated whom you were talking about. I ask you to withdraw the remark.

Senator Keeffe - Mr Acting President and Mr Minister, if you have a guilty conscience in both cases I will withdraw. I was not referring to either of you.

Senator Willesee - Could I be heard?

The ACTING PRESIDENT- No. I will not allow Senator Keeffe or any honourable senator to impute improper motives to the Minister, any honourable senator on either side of the chamber or myself. Senator Keeffe said that if Senator Wright and I felt guilty he would withdraw. His remark must be withdrawn unconditionally. That is the basis of withdrawal.

Senator Keeffe - In capital letters?

The ACTING PRESIDENT- It must be withdrawn unconditionally.

Senator Keeffe - In capital letters?

Senator Willesee - Could I be heard?

The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! I name Senator Keeffe.

Senator Drake-Brockman - I was going to follow Senator Willesee, Mr Acting President, but now that you have named Senator Keeffe it is my responsibility to call on Senator Keeffe and ask him whether he has anything to say.

Senator KEEFFE (Queensland) - I appreciate the intervention of the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate in a rumpus which need not have started at all. On numerous occasions interjections have been, cast across, this chamber from both sides. Mr Acting President, T am absolutely amazed at both yourself and Senator Wright taking this as something personal. I did not name anybody. I did not name the Minister and I did not name you, Sir. 1 thought that Senator Georges asked a very relevant question. Probably, in the enthusiasm of the moment, I made a comment. I think that this is a shocking state of affairs. Epithets have been cast from the Government side all afternoon. I am sorry about this. It has been a pretty disgusting state of affairs. I resent it deeply. I am ashamed to think that this has gone on. In response to the Acting Leader of the Government in the Senate I would like you, Mr Acting President, to restate the case. Under which standing order am I alleged to have offended? How have I offended? Then, with your permission, I will .make my reply.

The ACTING PRESIDENT- I do not propose to restate the matter. I have already stated it.

Senator Willesee - I ask for leave to make a short statement.

Senator WRIGHT - No.

The ACTING PRESIDENT- Leave is not granted.

Senator Drake-Brockman - Mr Acting President, I wanted to follow Senator Willesee but, as I said, you gave your ruling and now this matter can take only one course. It was my responsibility as Acting Leader of the Government to call upon the honourable senator so named to make an explanation. He has done that. The appropriate course just has to follow. We cannot go on making explanations with ali honourable senators joining in the debate.

Senator Keeffehas had an opportunity to give an explanation I regret .the incident very much.-

Senator Keeffe - Mr Acting President, 1 take it that this statement by the Acting Leader of the Government is final. May I ask the Acting' Leader of the Government in the Senate that question through you?

Senator Drake-Brockman - All I say is that the procedure is that if the Senate will not accept the honourable senator's explanation he must be suspended from the sitting of the. Senate. That is: the procedure.

Senator Keeffe - I cannot hear. The Acting Leader of the Government is speaking too softly.

Senator Drake-Brockman - -:The matter is now in the hands of the Senate-.

Senator Keeffe - Does, this' mean that I now have no right to speak :to your ruling? '

Senator Drake-Brockman - T am not giving a ruling. I am not in the chair. I was called upon as the Acting .Leader of the Government to ask Senator, Keeffe to make an explanation. He has made his explanation. I take it that he has finished his explanation. Now, the Senate is called upon to say whether it is satisfied with the explanation.

Senator KEEFFE - I had :hot finished my explanation. As I sat down, Mr Acting President, I sought your permission to finish my explanation after the Minister had made his explanation. Where do I stand in this matter? I ask for your ruling. on that.

The ACTING PRESIDENT- The honourable senator has had an 'Opportunity to make an explanation and to apologise and he has not done so. The matter is now in the hands of the Minister.

Senator Willesee - I suggest that however you might look at this, from a narrow viewpoint, Senator Keeffe did ask a question and then resumed his seat. Standing Orders say that a senator may make an explanation; so I suggest that in all fairness he should be able, to make that explanation in his own way. Whatever decision is taken after that is another matter but I think that in all justice, if a person is put virtually before a court which may pronounce a penalty upon him, he should be allowed to make an explanation 'in whatever way -he thinks fit. I know that you, Mr Acting President, will not want to do anything unfair in this chamber. So 1 suggest that you should allow Senator Keeffe to continue.

Senator Drake-Brockman - If I may intervene again, Senator Keeffe was called on to make an explanation. I understand that one of the points mentioned by you, Mr Acting President, was that the honourable senator should make an apology without any conditions attached to it; otherwise he would be expelled from the Senate for the day. If the honourable senator wants to go on with his explanation and make a withdrawal we will decide at that point whether we should expel him or accept his withdrawal-

The ACTING PRESIDENT- Senator Keeffe may continue with his explanation.

Senator KEEFFE - I thank the Minister. I said quite clearly, early in the piece, that if the Minister felt that there was any personal offence, 1 never intended it that way. What do I have te do?

Senator Gair - Apologise.

Senator KEEFFE - What do I do - withdraw the words?

Senator Gair - Yes.

Senator KEEFFE - Senator Gair would not be able to run a hen house, let alone run the Senate. I am asking you, Mr Acting President, to give a ruling. I am not asking Senator Gair for a ruling. I am asking for a ruling from you, Mr Acting President, not from the rooster in the hen house.

The ACTING PRESIDENT- I want the honourable senator to make a withdrawal with no attachments to it.

Senator KEEFFE - Well, I withdraw.

Senator Gair - And apologise.

Senator KEEFFE - Oh, shut up.

Senator WRIGHT - Now that that interlude has been concluded I proceed to answer Senator George's question. It conveyed an imputation so absolutely malicious and so absolutely unworthy of the Senate that I give him the assurance that it will be examined immediately. When I find that there is a member in the Senate whose mental processes can associate a request by a taxpayer to have his tax assessment reviewed, even if it is accompanied by an intimation that he will go to the court of appeal or see a member of the Government, with intimidation and acts threatening physical violence it shows how impotent is the capacity of some senators to understand the very fundamentals of the challenge-

Senator Keeffe - I rise to order. I object to the offensive words that the Minister is now using in a reply to a question properly placed before this chamber by my colleague. I suggest with due respect and deference that Senator Wright should be made to withdraw the offensive words.

The ACTING PRESIDENT- The point of order is not upheld.

Senator Keeffe - There is one law for one side and another law for the other.

The ACTING PRESIDENT- Order! The honourable senator will resume his seat. Once again I remind Senator Keeffe that he must not reflect on the Chair as he did when he said there is one law for one side and another law for the other. That is not my intention. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition indicated that I try to be fair. I may not be perfect, but I try to do the best I can in the light of things as I see them. I want it to be understood that there is nothing on which the honourable senator can reflect in this regard. There must not be a reflection on the Chair.

Senator Keeffe - If I must be like a piston in an oil drill, I withdraw again.

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