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Tuesday, 23 April 1985
Page: 1642


Mr GAYLER —My question is addressed to the Special Minister of State. It relates to industry in Queensland, specifically the parlous state of the racing industry. Is the Minister aware of allegations concerning a member of the Queensland Totalisator Administration Board, whether he be a knight of the realm or otherwise, who is supposed to have fraudulently used a telephone betting account? Can the Minister inform the House whether such action would constitute a relevant offence under the National Crime Authority Legislation? If there were evidence of organised crime resulting from such fraud, would the Minister expect the matter to come before the Intergovernmental Committee of the NCA?


Mr Spender —On a point of order, Mr Speaker: That matter is either within, or perilously close to, the sub judice rule in the sense that inquiries, as we read, are taking place.


Mr SPEAKER —Has a criminal charge been laid? Are criminal proceedings under way?


Mr Spender —It is being investigated, and therefore is a matter about which you should be scrupulously careful.


Mr SPEAKER —It is not covered by the sub judice rule. I call the Special Minister of State.


Mr YOUNG —Mr Speaker--


Mr Tuckey —On a point of order--

Government members interjecting--


Mr Tuckey —In response to those Government members who are questioning my legal experience, I say that I had enough legal brains to find out that he was a tax avoider. There is no worry about my legal ability.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for O'Connor will come to his point of order or he will take his seat.


Mr Tuckey —Mr Speaker, I was waiting for you to be handed the book. I draw your attention to standing order l44, regarding questions, which says that questions should not ask Ministers for a legal opinion. In that question there was a definite request for a legal opinion.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! There is no point of order. I call the Special Minister of State.


Mr YOUNG —A relevant offence under the National Crime Authority legislation is a serious offence that involves two or more offenders and substantial planning and organisation; that involves the use of sophisticated methods and techniques; that is committed in conjunction with similar offences and involves a range of matters including theft, fraud, bankruptcy and company violations and tax evasion. While I am not aware of the full details of the matters currently under consideration by the Public Prosecutor in Queensland, newspaper reports of matters raised in the Queensland Parliament indicate that at least some of the necessary elements for a relevant offence may be present in the case. I should just say, in addition to what the Prime Minister said, that there is a very close contact--


Mr Sinclair —How do you come to be giving a legal opinion?


Mr YOUNG —I could give as good a one as you.


Mr Sinclair —I can tell you that it would be a damn sight more accurate--


Mr YOUNG —It would be a contest, would it not?


Mr Sinclair —It would not cost the taxpayers as much, though, Mick.


Mr YOUNG —All the time you did was not in law school.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! While the House is used to the exchanges between the two honourable members, I suggest that the Minister proceed with his answer.


Mr YOUNG —There is a very close tie between the Chairman of the Totalisator Administration Board in Queensland and the Queensland Premier. Let me refer to an interview given on 2l October last. The report of the interview stated:

Millionaire businessman Sir Edward Lyons revealed for the first time yesterday his role as minder, political watchdog and personal confidant of the Premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen. Sir Edward told how he arranged the elevation of the Premier's wife to the Senate, convinced the Premier to accept a knighthood and advised him on personal financial matters.

Later he was asked whether he would invest in the coal industry. Sir Edward said:

For the record, I've got far more lucrative schemes for making money than investing any of mine or my associate companies' money in a depressed coal market.

I refer back to the fact that Sir Edward had the persuasive powers necessary to get the Queensland Premier to accept a knighthood. As you know, Mr Speaker, for many years there has been a philosophic debate going on in Australia over the continuation of the imperial honours as against the institution under the Whitlam Government of the Australian honours system, which we believe in and which we think has now been consolidated and accepted by the vast majority of people as being the proper awards to be given to Australians. However, for a long time the Government accepted that at least our opponents were taking a decent, conservative, philosophic position in wanting to keep imperial awards. That was until we saw what was happening in New South Wales, where Sir Robert Askin used to go around with his brown paper bag. If people tipped in they got the nod. Apparently he was going around with this brown paper bag so often that people thought he was suffering from perpetual air sickness. So it was not a great philosophic debate that our opponents were having with us; it was a debate on how to fill up the coffers of the Liberal Party of Australia. Not only have we done Australia a great honour, a great service, in replacing imperial honours with the Australian honours system, but we have also helped to clean up the Liberal Party.