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Thursday, 8 June 1989
Page: 3656

Senator PUPLICK —I direct my question to the Minister for the Arts, Sport, the Environment, Tourism and Territories. Has he seen an article in the magazine New Idea of 29 April 1989 relating to matters concerning north Queensland? Senator Richardson is quoted directly as saying:

There's one guy in Ravenshoe I'll do great harm to if I ever get the opportunity-and I'm sure I will.

Will the Minister be courageous enough to name the man so that he can take the necessary precautions and so that other citizens of Ravenshoe will not feel threatened? What exactly does the Minister have in mind by proposing that he will `do great harm' to this citizen? Does the Minister have any particular friends or associates in mind who are professionally qualified or skilled in doing great harm to people on the Minister's hit lists? Does he think it is proper for a Minister of the Crown, pledged presumably to uphold the rule of law, to say publicly of an Australian citizen, `I'll do great harm to him if I ever get the opportunity-and I'm sure I will.'?

Senator RICHARDSON —I am aware of the article. The quote attributed to me is roughly correct. I am not certain whether every word in it is correct. I repeat it now. The person concerned was responsible for an attempt to cause grievous bodily harm not only to me but also to many members of my staff. He spent a great deal of time trying to do that harm and, as far as I am concerned--

Senator Walters —Tell the police. Don't take it into your own hands.

Senator RICHARDSON —I will get to that; do not worry. As far as I am concerned, if people seek to perpetrate violence against me or members of my staff, I shall retaliate-and why should I not?

Senator Newman —An eye for an eye: is that what you are saying?

Senator RICHARDSON —The honourable senator should wait to see what I have to say. I am asked what sorts of things I intend to do-not an unreasonable question. I am asked also whether I have associates who are professionally good at these sorts of things.

Senator Stone —And are they out of gaol?

Senator RICHARDSON —Is that the next question? As far as Senator Puplick is concerned, in this Parliament over the last six years time and again he gets up and I hear allegations about the fact that I knew Tom Domican. Apparently this is supposed to be a devastating piece of news. The reality is that that will never be a substitute for policy or a substitute for Senator Puplick ever having the guts to stand up to those in the National Party or the New South Wales Government who are routing the environment. It will never cover up his weakness.

I am asked what sort of harm I have in mind. What I would dearly like to do is ensure that the Queensland police are able to do their job. When I was in Ravenshoe some time back, they failed dismally. In fact, they watched while the debacle occurred. They sat back and watched while a mob took on not just me but, as I said, members of my staff and a member of the other House, John Gayler. I will be going back there. I will make sure that the Queensland police are given the name of this person. I will make sure that, if that person repeats what he has done, he will finish up in strife. He would have been in strife last time, were it not for the fact that the Queensland police were hopeless.

Senator Newman —Why haven't you done it already?

Senator RICHARDSON —Good question. I will answer that question. The reason I have not done anything already is that there was an inquiry into this matter, and I was given an opportunity, I suppose one could say, to defend myself. The difficulty was that the inquiry was conducted by Judge Pratt. Does anyone remember who Judge Pratt is? The reason I cannot do anything about it is that the Queensland Government and its institutions are so crook that no-one can.

Senator PUPLICK —I ask a supplementary question, Mr President. Since some part of the Minister's answer goes to the question of the nature of the Queensland police authorities, I ask: Since he claims that he, as a Minister of the Crown, was threatened, intimidated or subjected to some degree of physical abuse, what steps has he taken to refer this matter to his colleague Senator Tate and to the Australian Federal Police for it to take proper action on the basis that presumably he regards it as a police force of integrity under proper ministerial control? As a matter of principle, can he explain why it is he believes that it is necessary for him to take action when there are other remedies available to him through the law?

Senator RICHARDSON —After the incident in Ravenshoe, which was, as I said, quite some time ago, I saw Senator Tate about this issue and he agreed to make sure that on future visits, not just for me but for other Ministers, there would be a better assessment of risk involved by the Commonwealth police, and that further Commonwealth police protection would be made available. When I went back to Queensland on many other occasions, I made sure that I made the name of this person known to the officers who were with me. It is interesting to note that time and again the same person was there leading the charge-except that on the other occasions, because of the actions I had taken, that thug found himself faced with Commonwealth police officers who were doing their job. Next time I go back the same thing will happen.