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
Wednesday, 7 March 1984
Page: 575

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Social Security)(6.35) —The Senate is debating the following censure motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition ( Senator Chaney):

That the Senate censures the Attorney-General for his handling of the Age tapes , and in particular his persistent refusal to provide information to the Parliament in order that it might properly perform its role in matters relating to the Judiciary.

I have been in this place in the past when we have debated censure motions. They have been occasions of high drama. They have been occasions of very serious import. They have been occasions when most honourable senators on both sides have been present to hear the debate, because it is a serious motion and, as a result, a serious debate. That is not what has happened this afternoon. If the Government can be excused for not getting too enthusiastic about this debate, it is because of the absence of enthusiasm from all speakers opposite with the exception of the last, Senator Sir John Carrick, with no one listening to the debate. I suppose that the last speaker, as he has done in the past, demonstrated what this motion is all about. His last words, when he brought up the importance of this to the New South Wales election, really demonstrated to us what it was all about. He also demonstrated the sorts of tactics he was only too willing to use when he was Leader of the Government in the Senate and now uses as an Opposition backbencher, tactics which some of his colleagues do not always use.

Let me give a couple of examples of what he did this afternoon. In mentioning Mr Temby, a gentleman of impeccable legal qualifications who was recognised by his peers by being elected president of an Australian legal association, Senator Sir John Carrick, in a snide remark, said: 'I will not mention the fact that he was a Labor candidate'. Why would Senator Sir John Carrick bring up that snide remark other than to try to blacken Mr Temby's name indirectly? He also said in this place that the judge should have known that the solicitor with whom he was dealing in 1979 and 1980, according to these alleged tape conversations, had been convicted in the courts when that conviction in fact occurred after those conversations. How on earth could the judge have known that at the time? Senator Sir John Carrick often does this. He often uses these tactics. When someone on this side decides to respond to those tactics in kind, Senator Sir John Carrick generally gets very upset. I do not want to see him upset.

Let me take up a couple of his other points. Senator Sir John Carrick should read Alfred McCoy's book Drug Trafficking in Australia in which Dr McCoy says:

During the 11 years from 1965 to 1976, with the Liberal-Country Parites in power, the State-

that is, New South Wales--

endured a period of political and police corruption unparalleled in modern history.

Senator Sir John Carrick mentioned the Moffitt Royal Commission on Alleged Organised Crime in Registered Clubs in New South Wales. The Moffitt Royal Commission exposed penetration of licensed clubs by organised crime in New South Wales during the period of the former Liberal-Country Party Government. It mentioned the flourishing of elaborate illegal casinos. It mentioned the domination of SP bookmaking by organised crime. During that time there was a Liberal-Country Party Government. The Premier of that State was Sir Robin Askin. We have seen the articles about him, which have never been denied. A senior official of the New South Wales Liberal Party at that time was Senator Sir John Carrick, the honest man who sanctimoniously says: 'I knew nothing about all that corruption. I was a friend of the Premier. I was the State Secretary in New South Wales'. There is endless evidence of what was happening in New South Wales at that time, and this gentleman, a knight of the realm, casts aspersions on people in this place and on judges on no evidence at all.

I am an ex-citizen of New South Wales. I know people in New South Wales. I know what happened in New South Wales when no one could get into business or do anything without the kick-backs. Senator Sir John Carrick was the Secretary of the Party, and he says: 'I knew nothing about it. I was pure. I sat up there in Ash Street. I wrote the minutes and I did the books. But I knew nothing about what was going on'. He will never get up in this place and deny that anything was going on. This is the person who speaks in the way in which he did about the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) when the Attorney-General has spent the last seven or eight days in this place answering endless questions and taking part in debates upon matters of public importance.

About three-quarters of our time has been spent on what? We should look at what we have been debating. Allegedly, a series of telephone conversations were intercepted, recorded and transcribed by a person or persons unknown, a manifestly illegal act and a gross invasion of privacy. The tapes were made available to the Age, and the Age printed transcripts. But the tapes were first rejected by the Sydney Morning Herald, which would not have a bar of them because they could not be authenticated, and the transcripts certainly could not be authenticated. The Age could not even get it right. In printed alleged transcripts of the tapes which had the judge saying one thing and the solicitor saying another, which reflected badly on the judge, but when the tapes were heard by other people, including members of the Opposition, it was found that it was not in fact the judge who was speaking the words attributed to him but the solicitor. Since then we have had rumour; we have had innuendo; and we have had disgraceful behaviour by members of the Liberal Party and the National Party, not only in this place but in the Queensland Parliament. This culminated last night in the naming, under privilege in the Queensland Parliament, after a spurious question, of the people who were allegedly taped in these circumstances . The tapes have not been authenticated. The transcripts have not been authenticated.

We had a debate in this place two days ago in which the Opposition, the Liberal Party, had the opportunity to vote for a motion for the production of the tapes and these transcripts. With the exception of Senator Lewis, who, I understand, would not take part in such hypocrisy, the Liberals voted against it. Today Senator Durack comes into this chamber and says that he wants a select committee to investigate the whole affair. This afternoon, after Question Time, and without warning, a motion for the suspension of Standing Orders was moved, which of course the Government took up. Since soon after 3 o'clock this afternoon-and if the recent additions to the speakers list are any indication, we shall be continuing on the same subject tomorrow morning-we have been listening to this debate and waiting for something new to happen, waiting for some decent arguments to be put forward. All that we have heard is Senator Peter Baume, the first one, admitting that what the Opposition is about is the New South Wales election. Then we heard the tirade from the knight of the realm opposite who comes in here and casts aspersions on anyone who dares to get up. I dare say that when it is all over, he will be indignant and will say what terrible people Grimes and others who follow are for daring to question his past activities when he does what he has done today and what he has done so often in the past in this place, which is to blackguard people, individually and collectively, and then to squeal like a stuck pig when someone responds. Of course we will respond to that sort of nonsense. Why should any honourable senator put up with such hypocrisy from someone who for so long was the secretary of a Party which was known to be corrupt by everyone in Australia? Why should we put up with such hypocrisy, such handwringing, such nonsense, as we put up with from Senator Sir John Carrick? He cries and he bleats every time it happens. I hope that he cries and bleats now.

Senator Sir John Carrick —It is only Balmain boys who do that.

Senator GRIMES —Balmain boys do not cry. When I was at school in New South Wales , most North Sydney Tech boys did not cry, either. Senator Sir John Carrick is the first one I have met who has cried. No wonder they do not want anything to do with him. Tell us, Senator Sir John Carrick, about the days in Ash Street. Tell us about your activities.

Senator Robert Ray —They have moved to George Street now.

Senator GRIMES —They have moved because there are too many ghosts in the old building, too many skeletons in the cupboards and too many ghosts and the place was not fit to inhabit. What did Senator Evans do?

Senator Archer —Just give us one word in favour of him.

Senator GRIMES —Senator Archer, you replaced an honourable man in this place. You replaced him by donating a house to the Liberal Party in Burnie to use as its headquarters. Deny it.

Senator Missen —I raise a point of order.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Grimes, it is not in order to impute improper motives or behaviour to members except by motion.

Senator GRIMES —Mr Deputy President, I stated a fact.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —It does not matter whether it is a fact or not. That remark should be withdrawn.

Senator GRIMES —It is a fact, but I will withdraw it.

Senator Missen —I take a point of order, Mr Deputy President. Senator Grimes is not speaking in any way to the motion-

Senator Robert Ray —Were any on your side?

Senator Missen —One can put up with the noise of the empty trumpets. Mr Deputy President, what Senator Grimes has been doing, in wasting time here now, probably to play out time until 7 o'clock, is making an attack upon my colleague Senator Sir John Carrick which, of course, is not relevant to the censure motion . The censure motion is not related to Senator Sir John Carrick or Senator Archer but to the Attorney-General. Senator Grimes is avoiding the subject. I suggest, Mr Deputy President, that you bring him into line and make him address the subject before the Chair.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Grimes is in order. He was, in my view, commenting upon remarks by Senator Sir John Carrick. However, I ask him now to return to the motion before the Chair.

Senator GRIMES —Good idea, Mr Deputy President. Let us talk about Senator Evans and what he has done. I repeat that what we have is a series of unauthenticated tapes and unauthenticated alleged transcripts of tapes. When this matter was raised, Senator Evans treated it with care and seriousness. Senator Peter Baume, I think, said this afternoon that Senator Evans's responsibility as the first law officer of this land is to the Parliament and the people of this country. That is right. It is also his responsibility to see that justice is done wherever possible, and he has a responsibility to individuals in this country. It is not an easy job. Senator Archer is interjecting. It is certainly a job beyond the capacity of Senator Archer. What did the Attorney-General do? He sought and received copies of the alleged tapes and the transcripts. He appointed to investigate the situation a man of impeccable reputation, a man who was smeared indirectly this afternoon by Senator Sir John Carrick, that honourable man, and by Senator Peter Baume. It was suggested indirectly that this man's political affiliations had something to do with his appointment. We have received a report that has been grievously misquoted this afternoon by Senator Sir John Carrick, that honourable man.

The Attorney-General appointed a man of impeccable reputation to investigate the next little affair that arose, an affair of which he was aware, because it was mentioned in the tapes and it was later raised in this Parliament-the Sala affair. The Attorney-General appointed a man of impeccable reputation to investigate that, and that man has reported on the matter. At all times in this place the Attorney-General has striven to protect the rights and privacy and to deal with natural justice with those people, including the judge, who were named in the tapes and whose names have been bandied around this country ever since the tape transcripts appeared in the Age. He has done so under considerable pressure in this place from members of the Opposition, who are unwilling to name people themselves but willing to list plenty of people by inference, and who are unwilling to come forward with any facts although they have the tapes and transcripts in their possession. He has at all times answered in as much detail as he could, protecting the rights and privacy of the people involved. He has done so with openness and while under considerable stress in debate and in Question Time. He has acted with honour, he has acted well and he has treated honourably the position-

Senator Archer —And with great loyalty.

Senator GRIMES —That was a charming interjection. I said that to ensure that it will be recorded in Hansard. It was a charming interjection. It was typical of the honourable senator. Senator Evans has done that consistently for six or seven days since the beginning of this parliamentary session, with all the nit- picking, all the inferences and all the nasty interjections from those opposite. Members of the Opposition failed to get a motion through this place to have those tapes-as they said, with the names crossed off-exposed to the light of day in this place. They failed to do so because they would not vote for the motion themselves. This morning they gave notice, through the shadow Attorney-General, of a motion which they were going to debate tomorrow, but they decided that they were getting too much of a caning in the Press for not putting up or shutting up , so they have now come up with this censure motion.

Is it not bad enough that in this country we have people acting illegally, taping conversations in the way in which they have been? Is it not bad enough that those tapes, without any authentication, and transcripts of other alleged tapes, without any authentication, have been bandied around this country? Not only the Government but also the Opposition has copies. The Australian Democrats have copies. The so-called respectable Press such as the Age has copies. The Toorak Times has copies. The only two people who do not have a copy, apparently, are Senator Archer, who could not be trusted, and Senator Missen, who probably would be shocked. Is it not bad enough that we have that sort of situation without the Opposition trying to debase this place by having those things tabled so that they can be treated as privileged documents and bandied around even further?

Who are the people who are trying to do this? Who are the allies of the Opposition? We had last night in the Queensland Parliament the extraordinary situation of Mr Jennings, who was expelled from the Liberal Party in Victoria for treachery-he is an extraordinary character-and who then joined that political garbage dump, the Queensland National Party, putting up a dorothy dixer to no one other than Mr Lane. Mr Lane is a Minister in the Queensland Government who left the Liberal Party-he is a turncoat-to join the National Party. His greatest distinction as a member of the police force was to arrest a man and charge him with obscene language only to have the charge thrown out because the man was proven to be deaf and dumb. These two characters, under the privilege of the Queensland Parliament, named the people involved. In the Senate this afternoon Senator Chaney put forward as justification for the questions that were asked about the names and in justification for seeking the production of those tapes the fact that those names were produced last night in the Queensland Parliament by a couple of such unsavoury characters.

I might add that last night in the Queensland Parliament another member of the National Party, a friend of Senator Bjelke-Petersen, made the following charming remark: 'What the Federal Government should do is introduce the ministry for dogs, led by a bitch, Senator Susan Ryan'. These are the sorts of people with whom the Opposition is associated. These are the sorts of people who are saying in this place that Senator Evans is not doing his job properly because he will not indulge in the sort of much-raking exercises in which the Oppositon wants him to indulge.

Nothing would have been easier for Senator Evans, if he were an unscrupulous Attorney-General, than to let all this stuff out and to say: 'God, we cannot put up with all this stuff; we will have a royal commission or something like that'. Instead, he asked people whom even Senator Missen would recognise as respected legal people of high repute to give him an opinion on what had happened. He looked at the tapes and the transcripts and said, quite justifiably and quite reasonably, as Mary Gaudron said in New South Wales: 'We have to get these tapes . We do not know whether they are authentic. We do not know how fair dinkum they are. Let us find out. But even if they are authentic there is nothing on these tapes about the judge'-it seems to me that the judge is the only one about whom the Opposition is worried-'and we should respect the rights of that judge just as we should respect the rights of any ordinary citizen'.

As Senator Chipp said today, we have come to a great point in this country if people can illegally tap telephones and illegally intercept conversations and, having done so, produce them anonymously and distribute them around the country anonymously. Tapes can be spliced or altered if necessary. Bits of conversations can be put together selectively. That is possible. We have seen an example of how easy that is this afternoon with Senator Sir John Carrick's selective quoting of the Temby report. The material has been distributed in that way and we have no idea from where it has come. Not too many people in this place would like their personal conversations to be spread about the country in this way. This matter has been brought into this place under privilege and the Opposition has said: 'This is a terribly important matter. We should not worry about whether the tapes are fair dinkum, accurate or anything else. We should not worry about who took them or about who did the transcribing'.

Senator Missen —Who says that?

Senator GRIMES —Senator Chaney says that. He says: 'We should bring them into this place and we should all sit around like a lot of voyeurs, have a good laugh and a good listen, and then castigate whoever happens to be recorded on the tapes.'

Debate interrupted.