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Thursday, 10 October 1985
Page: 1047

Senator BOLKUS(10.30) —Over the last two nights in this place a matter involving Mr Don Chisholm has been mentioned. He is the preselected candidate of the Australian Democrats for the Legislative Council in South Australia. In response to my statements Senator Vigor on both occasions has come to Mr Chisholm's defence. I do not want to speak at length tonight, but I want to analyse what Senator Vigor said last night. In doing so I will make some demands on Senator Vigor. Last night Senator Vigor made a number of allegations and assertions and incorporated in Hansard two documents. In doing so I believe that he has mislead the Senate in an attempt to cover once again for his mate who is obviously in dire trouble in his battle to be elected in South Australia. I believe that Senator Vigor's responsibility is to the Senate, not to mislead it, and to present the truth to the Senate. Last night he claimed that an assertion had been made that Mr Chisholm was involved in the Board of Adelaide Community and Educational Television at the time Mr Chisholm was in its employ.

This point is relevant because the assertion I made was that Mr Chisholm was involved in a decision-making process which gave him a grant under the community employment program at a time when he should not have received it for two reasons: Firstly his proximity and involvement with the Board and, secondly, the fact that he was not, under the guidelines for CEP grants, in one of the categories of people for whom that program was developed. In response Senator Vigor said very strongly that Don Chisholm was not involved with the Board at the time of his appointment to work for ACE Television. In doing so he tabled two documents.

Senator Vigor —I think you should quote it.

Senator BOLKUS —If Senator Vigor wants me to quote it, I will do that now. He tabled a letter from Mr Chisholm to the Chairman of ACE Television. In doing so he asserted that it was made very clear from that letter and the minutes thereafter that Mr Chisholm was not involved with the company. Let me quote from the letter, in the interests of honesty and truth. Mr Chisholm, in his letter of 27 April, 1984, states:

This is to confirm my acceptance of the position of Executive Officer--

a position under the CEP scheme-

I will endeavour to continue--

the letter does not make sense here-

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--

Obviously the decision had been made and recommendation had come through-

and I trust that the Board will accept this as my resignation.

It is quite apparent that the letter indicates that the person involved was involved in the decision-making process. I am amazed that Senator Vigor, who pretends to have some intelligence, cannot understand what is in these documents. If one looks at the minutes, one will see that at a meeting four days after this purported letter of resignation from the board of ACE Television, this resolution was passed:

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

Moved: R. Coy.

The next item states:

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

It was quite apparent that at all relevant times decisions were being made as to who was to benefit from this Federal Government money, Mr Chisholm was very much a part of that decision-making process. Mr Chisholm's resignation was not accepted by the Board until after he had been allocated employment by ACE Television. In the interests of truth, if Senator Vigor wants to incorporate documents in Hansard, let him read them and try to understand them first. Let us not have a continuation of this bumbling buffoonery for the protection of one of his mates.

The second point he made was that I asserted that Mr Chisholm had set up a trust to defraud people in some way. One can argue from that position, but the point I made was not that he had set up a trust with the direct intention to defraud people but that the trust was being used in a way that skirted around the unemployment provisions of the Social Security Act; that as a consequence, because of the way the trust was being used, and for other reasons, Mr Chisholm should not receive unemployment benefit; and that the whole matter of the trust and its operation should be investigated with a view to seeing whether the Commonwealth was being defrauded.

The third and last point I want to take up tonight is that Senator Vigor said:

Some rather strange claims were made concerning Donald Chisholm receiving unemployment benefit while campaigning.

Senator Vigor might think that they are strange, but at the same time the people of South Australia are bewildered by the sorts of statements made by his close political ally in this whole sordid little saga. The Adelaide Avertiser of 23 September referred to a 49-year old successful businessman who runs a condom vending company in South Australia under a trust arrangement. The article stated:

When asked whether he had been drawing unemployment benefits since June, he said he had been getting the dole but would stop doing so immediately.

A great, honourable statement, if he had stuck to it. The next day the Adelaide Advertiser reported a change of heart. It stated:

Mr Chisholm, who in an interview published yesterday said he would cancel his benefits for the rest of the campaign, has changed his mind and states the benefits are his only means of support.

One wonders what is strange about my claim when this purported political candidate in South Australia has shot himself in the foot twice in 24 hours. The claim I made was based very much on what Mr Chisholm said. For Senator Vigor to assert that I am making strange claims when quoting his political mate does the honourable senator absolutely no good.

In closing, I wish to draw the attention of the Senate not only to the newspaper comments and quotes from Mr Chisholm but also to the two documents tabled here, I believe quite dishonestly, last night. I wish to say that the matter needs to be investigated.

Senator Vigor —On a point of order, Mr President: I believe that the honourable senator is reflecting on my honesty and I wish that to be withdrawn.

Senator BOLKUS —Mr President, in the interests of clearing up this debate, I withdraw. The documents were incorporated in accordance with the Standing Orders, if I can assert that, but they were incorporated in a manner which did not give us an opportunity to check their accuracy. The last thing I say is that Senator Vigor purported to come here to keep us honest. Who will keep him honest?