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Wednesday, 9 October 1985
Page: 947

Senator VIGOR(7.22) —I wish to address the matter which was brought up last night by Senator Bolkus and deal with some of his claims. I did not obtain the documents from Hansard until late this afternoon. Since then I have contacted the office of the Minister for Employment and Industrial Relations (Mr Willis) to ask it to expedite the answer to question No. 412 on the Notice Paper which relates to this matter. I am also in the process of obtaining a number of documents which I believe will refute totally any and all of the claims made in this place last night by Senator Bolkus against Don Chisholm. At this stage I have managed to obtain two documents but in order to obtain a number of other documents from the Government I may be required to make application under the Freedom of Information Act. I will then be able to prove conclusively, with attested documents from the Government, that the statements which Senator Bolkus made were in fact false and unchecked.

Unlike Senator Bolkus, I believe in checking my facts and in having firm documentation before coming forward in the Senate. I believe it is extremely important to refute the types of bogus claims that Senator Bolkus has made. I wish to reaffirm my conviction of Don Chisholm's integrity. He has been involved in business for 20 years, and I am obtaining a set of references from his previous employers to that point. He has been unemployed since he left the Birdwood Mill, approximately four years ago, except for the period when he was involved in the community employment program with Adelaide Community and Educational Television.

I would like to deal with some of the claims that I can currently refute on the available documentation. The first of these is the claim that Donald Chisholm was involved in the Board of ACE Television at the time he was in its employ. I seek leave to incorporate two documents in Hansard. The first is dated 27 April 1984 and is a letter of resignation from Don Chisholm to Mr Rick Coy, who was Chairman of ACE Television.

Leave granted.

The letter read as follows-


The Chairman,

Ace-TV Inc.

Dear Mr Coy,

This is to confirm my acceptance of the position of Executive Officer. I will endeavour to continue to the work we have all done towards Public Television.

It is only proper that I should submit my resignation as a Director before taking up this position and I trust that the Board will accept this as my resignation.

I look forward to the next twelve months and hope that we can obtain our objectives.

Thank you and kind regards.

Donald Chisholm

Senator VIGOR —I thank the Senate. I also seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a certified extract of the minutes of the Board meeting of ACE Television held at 8 p.m. on Monday, 30 April-four days later-in which the Board approved the application for Donald Chisholm's employment and accepted the resignation that had been tendered between the two Board meetings.

Leave granted.

The extract read as follows-


Minutes of the Board Meeting held on Monday April 30, 1984 at 8 p.m. at 84 Franklin Street, Adelaide

Present: T. Easton, D. Vigor, G. Saunders, P. Howes, D. Chisholm, M. Masterton, R. Buttery, M. Craig, R. Coy, J. Naylor, H. Astbury, C. Robinson.

Apologies: T. Brown, J. Beeton.

It was moved that the meeting close at 10.00 p.m.

Moved: C. Robinson

Seconded: M. Craig


The question was raised concerning the extent of Rick Coy's input into the meeting; given the amount of input he has, it was decided that Mara Craig should chair the meeting.

1. CEP Jobs: That Anne Tsoulis be employed as the Administrative Officer and that she begin work as soon as possible.

Moved: R. Coy

Seconded: M. Masterton


That Donald Chisholm be employed as the Research and Development Officer, and that he begin work as soon as possible.

Moved: R. Coy

Seconded: H. Astbury


Donald Chisholm's resignation from the Board was accepted with thanks.

That the vacancy on the Board, created by Donald Chisholm's resignation be filled by someone from the multicultural community.

Moved: T. Easton

Seconded: R. Coy


Murray Masterton reported that his replacement will probably be Nigel Stark, who Murray will bring to the next board meeting, which will be his last.

There will be a sub-committee meeting (R. Coy, Gary Saunders and C. Robinson) to look at job descriptions and titles, in consultation.

Senator VIGOR —I believe that these two documents prove beyond doubt that Don Chisholm in fact was not a member of the Board of ACE Television at the time he was an employee of that organisation.

The next claim made by Senator Bolkus was that Mr Chisholm had set up a trust in some way to defraud people.

Senator Bolkus —He said it himself.

Senator VIGOR —He certainly did not say that he had set up a trust to defraud people. Firstly I must correct that whole idea. Senator Bolkus should check his facts. A trust was set up by Mr Chisholm's father in 1978, long before ACE Television or the CEP grants were under any type of consideration and while Mr Chisholm was an employee of the Birdwood Mill in South Australia. I am getting copies of the trust deed and various documents so that the relevant information can be incorporated to prove these facts. Mr Chisholm has assured me of them-I am getting taxation returns for both himself and his de facto companion, Wendy McPherson, to prove that Donald Chisholm in no way benefited from the trust while either receiving unemployment benefit or being in the employ of ACE Television. Unfortunately, because of the time scale, I do not have these documents today. I will return to this in the Senate once I have the full documentation. I will seek to incorporate the relevant documents in Hansard.

Another claim was that while Donald Chisholm was employed he had Wendy McPherson working. Wendy McPherson has on several occasions taken up casual work with the Birdwood Post Office and, I understand, with several other organisations, sometimes on a voluntary basis. The employment at the Post Office was on a paid basis. All of this has been fully declared to the Department of Social Security and I am currently seeking documents to prove this and, as I have said, the requisite taxation forms which I believe will prove conclusively that no defrauding of either the Government or anybody else has been carried out by Donald Chisholm or Wendy.

Some rather strange claims were made concerning Donald Chisholm receiving unemployment benefit while campaigning. In fact, as I understand it now, Donald Chisholm is not in receipt of unemployment benefit. Up until the time when his candidacy was confirmed, he was in fact available for work and registered with the Commonwealth Employment Service. I understand that Wendy McPherson, who is not currently casually working, is on unemployment benefit. Neither of them is in receipt of any money from any other source. I am obtaining documentary evidence to support this statement, so that I can table it in the Parliament.

I fail also to understand Senator Bolkus's paranoia about ACE Television. He states that ACE Television was set up with some type of aim to subvert the introduction of the Special Broadcasting Service in South Australia. I fail to see how it could ever have achieved such an end or could ever have been set up for such a purpose, and it seems to be a very strange claim by Senator Bolkus. I must say that ACE Television has as members and as correspondent organisations a number of very well respected Adelaide institutions, such as the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the South Australian College of Advanced Education. That is on the educational side. We also have support, and people involved in the Board, from the Ethnic Communities Council and from the United Ethnic Council. People from both councils have been involved in our meetings and in consultations with us over the years. We also have a very strong community base from production houses and community organiations that are interested in putting forward their views. No organisation that is involved in this is interested in subverting the SBS, and our relations with SBS are very cordial.

The whole of this attack on Donald Chisholm has political motivation, obviously, and I believe that it is a misuse of the Senate. I deplore Senator Bolkus's attempt to smear a citizen of Australia under privilege. If he wished to raise points here, he should have checked his facts before coming here. I shall prove that it is possible to check those facts and to get documented information. Once I have all those attested facts, Mr President, I shall be returning to present the documents to the Senate.