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Tuesday, 6 March 1984
Page: 463

Senator ROBERT RAY(4.37) —I am sure that tonight the boys at 234 George Street, Sydney, will be disappointed because the backroom boys who are planning the New South Wales State election campaign would have hoped that today their big brothers in Federal Parliament could provide them with at least an element that they could go on in the New South Wales campaign. People here are lucky that there is an industrial dispute and the Hansard will not get to New South Wales for weeks. The Opposition will be bitterly disappointed because it will probably get no coverage in the Press; this debate will make no splash at all. The Opposition's performance today has been nothing short of pathetic. It has been very lay-back, very low profile and absolutely abysmal. I will start with Senator Chaney. Apart from picking up the Notice Paper five or six times and throwing it down rather majestically, most of his points were completely invalid. First of all he quoted from a letter by a Dr Spry to the Age. He later questioned Mr Temby's qualifications. Dr Spry always takes a conservative line. As the honourable senator knows he always supports the Liberal Party of Australia. So what an impeccable source he is!

Senator Chaney —Is that how you label your lawyers?

Senator ROBERT RAY —I am just about to come to that. The Government has not commissioned Dr Spry-neither has the Opposition ever commissioned him-to put forward an opinion. If, as a government, the Opposition had commissioned Dr Spry I would respect his opinion because he is probably a person of integrity. He is probably not putting his political views first but the honourable senator would find that hard to understand. When the former Government appointed Mr Costigan to the Royal Commission on the Activities of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union, Mr Costigan was a member of the Australian Labor Party. Did the former Government ask him about his integrity? When Mr Barwick went to the High Court of Australia did the Opposition immediately assume that his integrity had to be in question at the time? Of course not. However, because Mr Temby has some connection with the Labor Party-I believe he ran as a candidate against Mr Court 's son; he is a friend of Senator Chaney's--

Senator Crichton-Browne —I think he is on the State Executive.

Senator ROBERT RAY —I think he may be. But is Senator Chaney saying that Mr Temby has no integrity in his profession? Is he saying that Mr Temby is biased? That is what he implied here today.

Senator Chaney —Rubbish!

Senator ROBERT RAY —Senator Chaney should go back and read his speech; he will find that that is what he implied. Senator Chaney appealed to the jury of public opinion in this place. Does Senator Chaney really believe that it is the jury of public opinion that makes a decision on this matter? I have never heard a more ridiculous concept. The honourable senator said that independent journalists had raw material and asked if one could possibly doubt them. The honourable senator must know what the insurance bill is for newspapers for defamation. Journalists are not always right. They are not infallible. They could be wrong in this case. So let not the honourable senator come into this chamber and quote them saying: 'Independent journalists have written this, so ipso facto everything there has to be true'.

Senator Chaney said that his main complaint was that the Attorney-General was contemptuous of the parliament's role. I think that is quite good coming from the other side, considering how that side has debased democracy in this country, especially if one goes back to 1975 when a lot of pompous hypocrisy came from that side about how glorious is the role of parliament. One only ever hears this from Opposition senators when they are in opposition. When they are on this side they could not care less about it. They invoke freedom of information when sitting on the Opposition side but when they were sitting on the government side they did absolutely everything they could to block it. Freedom of information does not mean that every bit of information which is received by a government should be available to everyone. Surely honourable senators opposite would concede that certain information and discussions which Ministers have are internal to the government are not suitable for publication. If one were to make everything that a government said and did available for publication everything it did would be restricted and ineffective. Finally, Senator Chaney accused Senator Evans of being like Groucho Marx. I take that as a compliment to Senator Evans. At least Groucho Marx had a successful career spanning four decades. Senator Chaney reminds me of Zeppo Marx who lasted two years and disappeared. The curtain came down on his career and that was it.

One of the other contributions made by the Liberals here today was that of Senator Durack who again reinforced the fact that Mr Temby's view is probably not the best sort of view. He does not agree with it. That is typical of the Liberal Party, especially of the lawyers opposite. If they get an illegal opinion they agree with it; it is fine. If they disagree with it it is just to be thrown out. But Senator Lewis really let the cat out of the bag, did he not, when he complained about Senator Evans putting off the debate until 25 March? I would have thought that Senator Evans's actions came as a result of the challenge by the Australian Democrats, who said that they wanted to raise this question after the New South Wales State election.

We have only another two days of sitting. We all know that the matter was not to be debated again in the next two days and Senator Evans responded in that way . But it certainly peeved Senator Lewis because the whole motivation of the Opposition in this matter is to bring up issues to try to help the boys-and girls, I should add-in New South Wales in the New South Wales State election. And boy, do they need some help. There are 13 Liberals in the Lower House in the New South Wales Parliament-the equivalent to a rugby league side. The real trouble however is that the Liberal Party has no front-rowers, no wingers and no five-eighths. They have only 13 orange boys. They are out of their league so they have to call in help from honourable senators opposite to try to win them an election. The Liberal Party has probably very little chance of winning the election because it has no issues to go on other than some nebulous claims and assertions, the sort of thing with which Senator Baume disgraced himself in this place yesterday. He read out a whole list of allegations irrespective of the fact that many of them had been answered already by inquiries and by courts. Nevertheless, the allegations were repeated here, allegations which harm innocent people. No one is arguing here that there is absolutely no corruption anywhere within Australia.

Senator Chaney —That is big of you; very big.

Senator ROBERT RAY —I thank Senator Chaney. No one is arguing that. If we had to argue that Australia was riddled with a certain amount of corruption we would have to ask members of the Opposition, who were in government for seven years, what they did about it if they believed that to be the case. They did absolutely nothing. The New South Wales Liberal Party has tried many formulas for success. The first formula was called Lewis. The second formula was called Willis. The third formula was called Coleman. The fourth formula was called Mason. It then proceeded to McDonald-and if we are talking about dubious practice, I had better not delay by considering him-to Dowd and now to Greiner. Presumably in April it will be Foot or someone else. The New South Wales Liberal Party might have a chance of winning the New South Wales election if it goes to the central issues in politics in Australia, gets out of the sewer and stops making allegations which it cannot back up.

Senator Crichton-Browne —You should be lecturing Senator Walsh, but he is not here.

Senator ROBERT RAY —When we consider Senator Crichton-Browne's road-to-Damascus conversion to concern about the judiciary we find that he was silent when a leader of the National Party appeared in the chamber opposite and attacked the credentials of a Supreme Court judge. Where was Senator Crichton-Browne then? He was not even sighted. It embarrassed his political party to have to defend Mr Sinclair. There is not doubt about that. But out of some sort of mob or tribal loyalty all his people in that House voted in favour of Mr Sinclair. Mr Sinclair attacked in this Parliament the decisions of a judicial inquiry. He impugned the impartiality of Mr Justice Cross and would not accept the decision. He attended a National Party meeting in Canberra and made these allegations. I understand that. I am not bitterly critical of Mr Sinclair for coming out in the way he has done. Many stories about corruption are going around. Mr Sinclair got excited. He went to the conference. He met all the fellows there and suddenly came out with the allegation that two people had attempted to bribe him. Having said that , the police interviewed him and he backed off. He appeared before the inquiry and backed off even further. Having backed off, he went into the chamber opposite and attacked the judiciary. Yet Senator Chaney says that Senator Evans is being contemptuous of the role of parliament. Members of the Opposition rip it up as often as they can.

I move on to the opinion of Mr Temby. There are two or three rather clear aspects of it. I think that the Attorney-General has put very lucid reasons as to why the tapes at this stage have not been tabled in this chamber. On page 2 Mr Temby said:

The first general point to be made is that the material I have seen could not of itself warrant the laying of charges against anybody. Neither the tapes nor the documents are original, and it may be that they have been fabricated. The first step, if any aspect of the matter is to be taken further, is to establish their authenticity.

On page 6 Mr Temby goes on to say:

There is nothing in the material I have seen, assuming its authenticity, which would prove or in any way support the conclusion that (the Judge) has been guilty of misbehaviour within the meaning of section 72(ii) of the Constitution.

Yet Opposition senators come into this chamber wanting us to table tapes which most people concede were gathered illegally, cannot be authenticated and may well, because of their salacious nature, ruin the careers of certain people. They want to do that not because of their concern for this institution or their concern with the basic issue; they want to do it only for short term, politically expedient reasons-to try to get some benefit for their poor, bedraggled colleague in New South Wales, Mr Greiner, who, as I said, is struggling, with 13 figures, to get a majority in that State House.

Motions condemning the Attorney-General have been moved before and they always follow the same pattern-failure to establish a case against the Attorney-General and generalisation based only on trying to undermine the Attorney-General's reputation. I say in conclusion that the Opposition will live to regret many of the statements it has made in the debate yesterday and in the debate today. I remind it that when in opposition we have sometimes learnt the lesson about opening our mouths and trying for the most opportunistic reasons to generalise in regard to a case-the words are quoted back when in government. I say to members of the Opposition that many of the statements that they are making now will come back to haunt them in the unlikely event that they are ever re-elected to sit on this side of the House.

I defend the Attorney-General not only because I regard him as a friend but also because I regard him as a good performer in this House. I believe that in any objective sense he has handled this matter with integrity and correctness. How the jackals on the other side, the lawyers on that side, became lawyers I do not know. Senator Chaney said yesterday that even if it took 50 years he would not be as politically or as legally qualified as Dr Griffith. I think that he is being conservative as usual. I think that Billy the goose would know more about the law than he. Members of the Opposition will live to regret those sorts of generalisations. Before this place descends any further into a rabble I move:

That the business of the Senate be brought on.

Question resolved in the affirmative.