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Tuesday, 9 October 1984
Page: 1892

Mr PEACOCK —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Attorney- General. I ask: In the light of the widespread concern being voiced over the remarks of the Premier of New South Wales concerning the future of the New South Wales Chief Stipendiary Magistrate, Mr Clarrie Briese, will the Government rise above its political reliance on Mr Wran and tell the Premier that his remarks are damaging to the administration of justice in New South Wales? Will the Government convey to Mr Wran the concern of those involved in the Federal jurisdiction that New South Wales magistrates are charged with the administration of Federal laws and that his remarks can only harm that administration?

Mr LIONEL BOWEN —Even the Leader of the Opposition would know that Mr Wran's name has been mentioned in the Senate inquiry in circumstances which gave Mr Wran no chance to defend himself. In fact if one looks at that inquiry, one sees that it is not a judicial inquiry; it is a political inquiry of the Senate which is costing the taxpayer about $20,000 a day and which is admitting, by way of evidence, all sorts of allegations against people who are facing trial at present. It is about time the Senate had a look at the sort of committee it has set up and the sort of evidence that is being admitted.

Mr Howard —This is interesting; keep going.

Mr LIONEL BOWEN —Yes, it is interesting and I will keep going. The only thing that will limit me will be time.

Mr Howard —Go on, keep going.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will cease interjecting.

Mr LIONEL BOWEN —The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has more excuses than section 16 of the Income Tax Act. The other day he was at the committee hearing and he would have heard evidence tendered which was complete hearsay against a person who is facing trial. That is a denial of natural justice if ever there was one. The Senate ought to have a look at itself when it sets up this sort of farce to pillory people who have yet to be placed on trial in the courts of New South Wales. I think the point is well made in notices given here today that Sir James Killen accurately assessed--

Mr Spender —Your Chairman has the casting vote.

Mr LIONEL BOWEN —I am not talking about my Chairman, I am talking about the Senate. The honourable member for North Sydney, Mr Spender, as a Queen's Counsel , would know if he was there-and I think he was-that the Committee is admitting all sorts of evidence in a fashion that will damage people and has already damaged a number of people. I make the point that several of those people are now facing trial in New South Wales. Is it any wonder that Sir James Killen said that this was a denial of natural justice? He said it was about time the Leader of the Opposition dissociated himself from that sort of manoeuvre.

Let us make it very clear: One of the reasons that the Committee was set up related to the question of tapes which, of course, as a result of the first Committee were deemed not even to be authentic. On that Committee was the former Attorney-General, Senator Peter Durack. It is worth while noting that the same Peter Durack had before him for more than 12 months the question of committing Morgan Ryan for trial and he did not do it. Why did the Attorney-General in the Liberal Government not commit Morgan Ryan for trial? What representations were made to the Government of the time not to commit Morgan Ryan for trial? It was this Government that sent Morgan Ryan for trial. How is it that Peter Durack, the Attorney-General in the former Government, was able to get himself put on a Senate committee purporting to investigate the authenticity of the Age tapes? If one looks at the Temby report one sees that the Age tapes interception was done by a New South Wales police officer who was an informer for the Federal Police. Who was in charge of the Federal Police at that time?

Honourable members interjecting-

Mr LIONEL BOWEN —That is not false; it is in the Temby report. Money was paid to the informer. How is it that when the Opposition was in government there was the illegal interception of the telephone, there were the tapes, and there was a paid informer who cannot be found now? He has retired on the grounds of ill health and is allegedly sailing a yacht in the Mediterranean. Is it any wonder that anybody whose name is dropped like confetti in the Senate complains about the denial of natural justice and about the fact that this is not a court of law ? Let us make it very clear; this inquiry is not a court of law.

The point has been emphasised over and again that this should be the first and last Senate takeover of justice in this country. The performance there is a travesty of justice. Material which is not evidence has been admitted. Names have been dropped without any rhyme or reason whatsoever and people who are facing trial in this country now have to overcome the difficulty of doing so having been pilloried in front of this Committee which has no power except to report back to the Senate. That is all it has to do. It had no right to take unto itself the laws of this country. It had no right to admit as evidence accusations and allegations made against a number of people. When any Premier, irrespective of whether he is from New South Wales or anywhere else, objects to his name being mentioned before this Committee he is fully entitled to do so.