Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 13 September 1984
Page: 1252

Mr PEACOCK (Leader of the Opposition)(3.03) —I move:

That this House censures the Government for

(1) the failure of the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Attorney-General to allow effective investigation into organised crime;

(2) its systematic attempts to weaken the fight against crime in Australia;

(3) its refusal to grant effective powers to the National Crime Authority;

(4) its indecent haste to close down the Costigan Royal Commission in the midst of major investigations;

(5) its deceitfulness over the tabling of correspondence between the Government , the Costigan Royal Commission and the National Crime Authority;

(6) its failure to ensure the continuation of the Costigan Commission's attack on crime by intervening in the dispute over transition arrangements between Costigan and the National Crime Authority;

(7) its failure to institute an effective investigation into the substance of the Age tapes; and

(8) its failure to give the Director of Public Prosecutions effective powers.

For the last two weeks virtually all we have seen in this Parliament is a government twisting, turning and obstructing on the issue of confronting organised crime in this country. The Opposition has exposed the weaknesses of the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) and duplicity on the Costigan Royal Commission on the Activities of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union, exposed the Government's irresponsibility on the handover to the National Crime Authority--

Mr Cadman —Where is the Prime Minister going?

Mr PEACOCK —I see that the little crook is running, as he has been running for months as the screws were put on him to wind up Costigan. He is a crook and he knows it. He is a crook and he is running from the Parliament. He is running away from the enforcement of the law.

Mr SPEAKER —Might I suggest to honourable gentlemen on my left that the Leader of the Opposition is addressing the House and that, with the noise they are making, he cannot be heard.

Mr PEACOCK —This little crook is slowly being judged for what he is, a perverter of the law of this country and one who associates with criminals and takes his orders from those who direct those criminals. The Prime Minister was forced, for example, to the early tabling of the Redlich report, which shows the nonsense of the Government's claim to be serious about fighting organised crime. The point is that these events are only one chapter--

Mr Robert Brown —Mr Speaker, on a point of order: My concern is that the reference by the Leader of the Opposition may not have been heard by you. He referred to the Prime Minister as a crook. I believe that the Leader of the Opposition should be required to withdraw that statement and to behave himself.

Mr SPEAKER —I point out to the House that, although this is a substantive motion , such a motion does not allow the use of unparliamentary language. If the Leader of the Opposition made that imputation, he should withdraw it.

Mr PEACOCK —The point is that these events are just another chapter--

Mr SPEAKER —The Leader of the Opposition should withdraw.

Mr PEACOCK —I will withdraw the reference to the 'little crook'. Someone may think it relates to his physical--

Mr SPEAKER —Order!

Mr PEACOCK —I withdraw. The point is that these events are just another chapter in the success of a powerful group of people within the Australian Labor Party which will do everything to avoid effective crime fighting and which will do anything to avoid eroding their power base in New South Wales-the same power base of the Prime Minister and the personal fiefdom of the Treasurer (Mr Keating ). We are no longer talking about just a continuation of the historical links between criminals and the New South Wales Labor Party. We now have a systematic attack by the New South Wales right wing to stifle crime fighting and the active complicity of the Prime Minister in this cover-up. When one adds up the events of the last 18 months, one does not have a set of isolated incidents; one has a systematic attempt to weaken crime fighting in Australia and a systematic attempt to obstruct effective investigation by this Prime Minister and his Government.

Why is this Prime Minister racing to an early election? A salient factor is that he has learned from Mr Wran to get in first before it all comes out. This is the very same Prime Minister who set the standard when he said in September 1982:

But my point is quite explicit in this regard. I say let it all hang out from these inquiries of the Royal Commission and let it fall where it will. They were the words I used in the Parliament and I adhere to that.

The difference between September 1982 and September 1984 is that the Prime Minister's future is now firmly in the hands of a power base which is corrupt, and when the Prime Minister is too tainted the New South Wales Right will spit him out.

Let me briefly detail the events of the last 18 months to show clearly how systematic this attack on crime fighting has been. Firstly, the Jackson affair. It started with Mr Farquhar and Mr Jackson-relative sideshows on the way to the big events-but still it is indicative of the refusal of the Prime Minister and his National President to confront crime. When I first raised in this Parliament the Jackson issue all we got was ridicule and blocking instead of rigorous examination. It is only now that Mr Jackson is being tried. Then one moves to the Age tapes because, if Farquhar, Jackson, Wood and Allen were all about protecting the Prime Minister's mates and power base, the so-called Age tapes provided the first direct test of the Hawke Government's commitment to fight organised crime.

If ever there was a near consensus on crime in Australia, the Age tapes provided it. But what a failure on the part of the Government. Almost a year after the Government became aware of the Age tapes, we are advanced no further towards a full and proper investigation of the Age tapes, tapes which reveal a vast network of crime in Australia. With the exception of Mr Justice Stewart, who is examining the authenticity of the tapes, every other aspect of the investigation into the Age tapes has ceased after a stream of powerless prosecutors. State Attorneys-General have come home saying: 'We lack the power to get to the bottom of the tapes'. We want a royal commission into the Age tapes, with full powers to investigate not only the authenticity but also the substance of the tapes. But of course the Prime Minister will never agree to do this, because he knows that a full investigation would destroy Mr Wran and it would destroy the right wing of the New South Wales Labor Party.

Mr Redlich in his 1983-84 annual report has highlighted the total failure of the Government to confront the information on the tapes. In early 1984 Mr Redlich asked the Attorney-General how the Special Prosecutor might pass to the Victorian gaming squad some information from the Age tapes on race fixing. The Attorney-General did not. When the Opposition raised this issue with the Attorney, he said that there needed to be special legislation to pass the material on. He also said that, because of a mistake in his office, Redlich had not received a reply to his advice.

It seems, considering the history of the Attorney-General's relationship with, for example, Stuart John Perry, that the Attorney makes a lot of mistakes. The key point is this: Why was no legislation passed for some months while this vital information on race fixing, drugs and other aspects of organised crime sat in a file in Canberra? The Attorney-General is quick enough to issue statements attacking people who have information about organised crime but he is a tortoise when it comes to supplying information which is of use to the police. Are these the actions of a government dedicated to fighting crime? Of course they are not.

The Government's record on the National Crime Authority is further proof of a systematic weakening of the fight against crime. It is now a matter of history that, after much vacillation, the Government tried to introduce a crime authority which would have been totally ineffective and that the Opposition had to toughen it up in the Senate. Let me dwell briefly on the transition from the Costigan Commission to the National Crime Authority. Since 30 June the Costigan Commission has had to use all its resources to write the final report. The National Crime Authority is highly unlikely to become operational until December at the earliest. This means that for almost half a year Australia has had no national authority investigating crime. This Government has ensured that major criminals are given a reprieve.

Let us go over the history of Costigan's relations with the Government. Costigan did not want to go on forever. He made that plain in his letters of 1983. He wanted a national crime authority with a power to continue the work that he was doing. I refer to his letter of 10 August. He would then have finished up gladly. The second thing that he wanted was to be able to continue his investigations into financing the big money men on the drug trail. He told the Prime Minister on 2 November that he would like to quit but his investigations were 'at a critical point and it would be contrary to the public interest to stop'. On 24 November he wrote to the Prime Minister and said that he wanted an extension to the end of 1984. His main reasons were 'because it was in the public interest' and that if he were closed down 'it will not be possible to maintain the thrust of my investigations'. He was talking about making sure that his investigations continued unabated in getting to the heart of organised crime in this country.

Did the Prime Minister say: 'Costigan is on the hunt; we will have a crime authority but we will make sure that Costigan nails the big boys'? No. After the December Cabinet meeting in which Keating stuck the knife in and Senator Richardson called the shots from the sidelines, the Prime Minister wrote back: ' You must finish everything, including the transition from your commission to the NCA, by 30 April'. This is a measure of the Prime Minister. This was his acid test. Costigan said 'I can crack these people' and Hawke said 'Finish up'. From there on the correspondence continued, each time with the Government putting pressure on Costigan to finish up and then Costigan asking for a little more warning, a little more time. He warned, for example, on 3 February that if he were forced to finish up his investigations would be destroyed.

Let us remember that, as the screws were tightened on Costigan, from Easter to June he was sick. In that period he was able to sit for only two weeks. The Government would give him a month here and a month there, but never did it relent its pressure. I think the House can imagine just how destabilising that pressure was on the operations of the Costigan Commission. The Prime Minister never said 'You have been sick; have some extra time'-not once. Finally the Government forced Costigan to finish investigations on 30 June, at the end of a period in which he had been able to sit for only a few weeks in the continuation of his investigations.

Now, of course, the Government has given him an extra month-and why not? The Prime Minister has done his job. The investigation finished on 30 June, Costigan is not sitting and his Commission is not investigating. The people he wanted to get back into the witness box cannot be recalled by him. The Prime Minister has done his job. Costigan has been finished. The Treasurer has done his job. Costigan has been finished. Neville Wran, hearing the distant thunder from Costigan, has had his election.

All the facts about the transition have had to be squeezed day by day out of this Government. It was only after persistent questioning that the Prime Minister agreed to table the correspondence on the transition. What did the Prime Minister do after he had been found out in the tabling of that correspondence, and the lack of some of it? Did he apologise? No. Did he say that it was an error that he did not table all the correspondence? No. Instead, he tried to argue his way out of it, claiming that the correspondence did not relate to the transition and to Commissioner Costigan's concerns, when it is so very clear that it did. At every turn this Prime Minister has tried to twist and turn and to obstruct.

But this is not the end of the Government's record of deceit and cover-up. Let us refer to the Redlich report. The Redlich report is a massive condemnation of the worsening situation of the Australian Federal Police. It is also a massive vindication of Mr Costigan. Mr Redlich states that as a consequence of Mr Costigan's work over 600 charges have been laid and there are more to come. This puts the lie to the Attorney-General who criticised Costigan for having a gung- ho approach and who has for the last two weeks been going around Parliament saying that the final Costigan report will be 26 volumes of fiction and one volume of fact.

So much for the words of the Attorney-General. Twenty-four hours before the Redlich report was publicised by the Opposition in this Parliament, the Attorney -General was trying to induce the Government to tip a bucket on Costigan by saying that Redlich's report would show that no charges could be laid on the basis of Costigan's findings. Well, on the basis of how many prosecutions Redlich has already laid, it looks as though the Attorney-General will be wrong again. Mr Redlich has laid 600 charges and there are more to come. Redlich has also pointed to an inadequacy in the powers of the Director of Public Prosecutions. He says that only 30 per cent of the civil remedies that could have been taken against organised crime can at present be taken. This is the legislation of a Prime Minister who so confidently said in 1982:

Any other Royal Commission or any avenue or inquiry which is available to investigate the tax evasion industry and any associated criminal activities should be given those powers so that this industry and any associated criminal activity can be pursued. Let these investigations go where they may and let the results be what they will.

What happened to change the Prime Minister's mind? Who persuaded him to look at the matter differently? We have subsequently had some intimations from Senator Evans that he will seek to remedy the situation. I only hope that he acts with expedition. When we look at the case of Stuart John Perry, we wonder. I come to that matter which my colleagues will dwell on in some detail later in this debate.

The essence of the Perry matter is this: Perry went to Attorney-General Evans in 1983 seeking support for his application for a visa. He told the Attorney- General and his staff that he had a long criminal record. One would think that the Attorney-General might have been somewhat reluctant to support this application. If he had done any investigation of Perry he would have found that Perry had misrepresented to him the number of charges he had had since 1979. If he had probed he would have found that the Costigan Commission was extremely interested in Perry, as we discovered here today. Indeed, shortly after the Attorney-General's support for Perry, Perry spent a couple of interesting days being cross-examined by Costigan.

I refer the House to the publicly available transcripts of evidence of the Costigan Commission of 30 September and 11 October. It demonstrates the immense stupidity of the Attorney-General that it does not seem to have occurred to him that if a man comes before him seeking the Attorney's support over his immigration status, he ought to consider whether or not he might be in the situation eventually of prosecuting or deporting the same man. I can only add to this farce a very serious note. Senator Evans has confessed that, like the Prime Minister, he twice approached the Editor of the Age, seeking to suppress this story. Did he speak to Chadwick or to Perry? He did. Is that why Perry went to the Age and menaced reporters, threatening them, the day after Senator Evans spoke to editor Burns? This is negligence by a Minister which is inexcusable, inexplicable and dangerous.

But the other significant element in this story is the presence of Mr Chadwick of the Storemen and Packers Union. Mr Chadwick is the Storemen and Packers Union standover man. He is the one who puts the heavy on when the Prime Minister's mates in the Storemen and Packers Union-Crean, Landeryou and the like-want to keep any protest in their ranks quiet. The Storemen and Packers Union is one of the Prime Minister's key power bases in the union movement, and Chadwick is one of its key men. He keeps company with this Mr Stuart John Perry-let us put it bluntly; a noted hit man-and the poor fool of an Attorney-General snaps into line when a heavy from the Storemen and Packers Union calls the tune.

What is going on? Where do all the links lead to? Keating, Chadwick, Evans-they all have one thing in common: They are all the Prime Minister's men. All these links will continue to weave a web around this Prime Minister as he struggles to obstruct inquiries into the Age tapes, as he seeks to make sure that never again is there a body so fierce and determined as Costigan, as the Treasurer protects the Minister for Finance (Mr Dawkins) for fiddling his bottom of the harbour schemes, as the Attorney-General seeks to delay action on the Redlich and Gyles reports, as the Attorney-General runs away from his foolish and dangerous behaviour in regard to Perry, as Keating, Richardson and Wran-the corrupt princes of the New South Wales Labor Party-seek to worm out of the revelation of the truths about themselves, and as the Treasurer seeks to cover up the truth about his interference over the Gyles reports. In weeks to come we shall be hearing a lot more about this Government's moral corruption, and about the role that this Treasurer has played as well as the role of the Prime Minister. This Government is deserving of censure today.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mrs Child) —Order! The honourable gentleman's time has expired.

Mr PEACOCK —I say unashamedly that there is more to come, and come it will.

Madam DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat. Is the motion seconded?