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Thursday, 20 May 1993
Page: 1048


Senator MICHAEL BAUME (12.03 a.m.) —I want to use the opportunity of the first reading debate for the package of Bills dealing with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to deal with two matters. The first relates to today's report that Dr Geoff Chapman, described in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning as the hero of racing's anti-GST campaign, has quit the Sydney turf. He is quoted as saying:

It's a slow way of going broke.

Of course it is, in view of the economic conditions imposed on all industries, particularly the racing industry, by the recession that we had to have.

  Dr Chapman is reported as considering his future on the Gold Coast, with a return to medicine most likely. As Dr Chapman, in my experience, listens entirely with an open mouth, he will have great difficulty in discovering his patients' symptoms unless he changes the style that, quite frankly, marked his disgraceful performance before the election.

  Dr Chapman is quoted in this morning's Sydney Morning Herald as saying:

Training racehorses just isn't economically viable.

Yet before the election he attacked the Opposition, and he is described by the Sydney Morning Herald as `one of the most effective racing representatives' on the question of attacking the GST. The paper states:

He received wide exposure, and was on Paul Keating's thank-you list the day after the election.

I might add that the Prime Minister, Mr Paul Keating, went to visit Dr Chapman's stables, the Lord Ben Lodge, after Dr Chapman had participated in one of the most disgraceful and dishonest political campaigns I have ever struck. He simply told lies and repeated those lies, and he knew them to be lies. I was pleased that the owner of those stables, Mr John Dunnon, dissociated himself from Mr Keating's visit and expressed his concern about what Mr Keating's economic policies and his Government had done both to racing and Mr Dunnon's interest in property which had in fact forced him to dispose of those stables.

  Let us get the facts exactly right. Dr Geoff Chapman may have been the hero of racing's anti-GST fight as far as Mr Max Presnell of the Sydney Morning Herald who wrote this morning's report is concerned, but he was a disgrace to those people who expect industry leaders to tell the truth. Dr Chapman's campaign against the GST was based on lies and distortion. The centrepiece of his campaign was his totally false claim that amateur owners—about 90 per cent of racehorse owners in Australia—would have to pay a GST on prize money. That was simply false. He knew it to be false and yet he kept on repeating it for the benefit of his mate, Mr Keating. Weeks before Dr Chapman came out with this politically based lie—


Senator Bolkus —I raise a point of order, Mr Deputy President. Is it in order for Senator Baume to libel and slander an individual outside this place when that individual does not have the right to come in and respond? It is a gutless act on his part. He should be saying this outside the Parliament and not inside it. This act of cowardice is something we are used to from this individual.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Bolkus will withdraw those two words, `gutless' and `cowardice'.


Senator Bolkus —Why are they out of order?


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I am saying that they are unparliamentary.


Senator Bolkus —If you say they are unparliamentary, Mr Deputy President, I withdraw.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —There is no point of order.


Senator MICHAEL BAUME —That kind of frivolous point of order is the sort of thing I expect from Senator Bolkus who does not have the capacity to recognise the truth. I am now telling the truth about a disgraceful and dishonest campaign in which Dr Chapman enjoyed participating.

  Weeks before Dr Chapman came out with this politically based lie, with other leaders in the racing industry he had attended a meeting with me accompanied by an accountant who was advising the racing industry. This accountant had clearly explained to these racing industry leaders, including Dr Chapman—who, as I said, appeared to spend that time listening open-mouthed—that there would be no GST on prize money earned by amateur owners who make up more than 90 per cent of all owners in Australia. Because of that knowledge, no other leaders of the racing industry in Australia supported Dr Chapman's lies. They would not support him and that is why he was the outspoken hero. He was the only leader of that industry who kept on repeating that lie and kept on getting massive media cover for that lie.

  This knowledge that it was a lie, told to him by his own industry's advising accountant, did not stop Dr Chapman from spreading it. It had the effect of making him look a hero while the other racing industry representatives were made to look like wimps for not participating in it. It was interesting to note that some newspapers, such as the Sun-Herald, found it attractive and interesting to run Dr Chapman's nonsense, but would not run with anything like the same enthusiasm the comments made by leading trainers like Tommy Smith, for example, who said that the industry would benefit overall from a GST. Here we have leading racing people saying that what Chapman was saying was absolute nonsense, his own accountant was telling him and yet he continued to repeat this kind of lie.

  The facts are that racing under the Keating administration is being destroyed. At least Chapman is right to that extent. It is not economic. He said:

Training racehorses just isn't economically viable.

I remind the Senate that under the GST the trainers of racehorses would have had all GST expenditures refunded to them. So Chapman was wrong on almost every score. Sure, there were some problems for some amateur owners, and there was no doubt that there was a need to address them, but there was certainly nothing like the sorts of problems that Chapman pretended were arising.

  The simple fact is that racing is being damaged seriously. Local and provincial race clubs are in serious financial difficulties, not because of anything the Federal Parliamentary Liberal Party has done, but basically because of what this Federal Government has done to the economy. That is why racing is in trouble. That is why Dr Chapman is being forced out of racing. That is why he will have to go back to medicine. I just want to say in conclusion that if ever there were a man who is deservedly reaping the proceeds of what he sowed, it is Dr Chapman. I hope that if he returns to medicine his integrity in that field will be a lot greater than it was in racing and in his political stunts to serve the interests of the Labor Party.

  I now want to very briefly deal with another matter. Mr Deputy President, you will be aware that a notice of motion I gave to this chamber was ruled out of order on three grounds the day before yesterday. It was a notice which was supposed to be whimsical. It was, in fact, a poem which rewrote a verse about the Duke of Plaza-Toro from the Gondoliers written by W.S Gilbert. That verse in its original form seemed to me to be very appropriate to the Minister for Transport and Communications (Senator Collins) because it went like this:

In enterprise of martial kind,

When there was any fighting,

He led his regiment from behind—

He found it less exciting.

But when away his regiment ran,

His place was at the fore, O—

That celebrated,

Cultivated,

Underrated

Nobleman,

The Duke of Plaza-Toro!

There is no doubt that the Minister was quite prepared to have his bureaucracy suffer the slings and arrows in this matter while he was safely in the rear—or was it safely in Darwin?—not reading, not understanding, not caring about what the documents actually said. I get the impression that when the trouble started he certainly was the first to depart, to say, `It is not my fault; it is someone else's'. Whatever the report today said about the fault of the department, I must say that it is incredible that no Minister would have asked the department, `Is there anything you should point out to me in this matter which is significant?' In any event, I changed this verse to read as follows:

In enterprise like Pay TV

When there was any tendering

He left the job to bureaucrats

Especially by gendering

And while he took his salary

His staff all suffered rough-ups

That error-maker, gross mistaker,

Overweight incompetent

The Minister for stuff-ups.

There is scope in this chamber for a bit of humour, sarcasm and reasonable whimsy. It did have a sharp touch, but are we not taking ourselves a bit seriously when we will not allow that kind of thing to appear in the record of the Parliament? It seems to me extraordinary that we are taking ourselves so seriously.

  One of the things that disturbs me about this place is the savagery, the nastiness and the unpleasant exchange, such as we have seen from Senator Bolkus tonight. There is no way one could pretend that that had an edge of humour, that it had any grace or that it had anything going for it except bad temper, irritation and a lack of most of the decencies that one would expect from a Minister of the Crown.


Senator Faulkner —How can you say that with a straight face?


Senator MICHAEL BAUME —Would Senator Faulkner like to keep quiet for a change? By way of disorderly interjection, Senator Faulkner must by now have some kind of record for a Minister of the Crown. It would be a marvellous idea if the decorum of this place was assisted by Senator Faulkner behaving himself for a change. The point I was trying to make before Senator Faulkner's gibberish was that surely there is scope in this place for a little bit of humour. I know that Senator Faulkner is a persistent joke in this chamber, but I want some real humour and I had hoped that this notice of motion would be seen as such. I regret that apparently there is no scope in this chamber for that kind of expression, which one would hopefully say is a little bit of wit.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Before I call Senator Faulkner, I would like to refer to a point of order that was raised during Senator Baume's speech. I ruled that there was no point of order, and that was correct. But I would like to remind honourable senators, although only a few of us are here, that certain resolutions were agreed to by the Senate on 25 February 1988 in relation to parliamentary privilege. I think it is worth while reminding ourselves of them occasionally. Resolution No. 9 states:

Exercise of Freedom of Speech

(1) That the Senate considers that, in speaking in the Senate or in a committee, Senators should take the following matters into account:

(a) the need to exercise their valuable right of freedom of speech in a responsible manner;

(b) the damage that may be done by allegations made in Parliament to those who are the subject of such allegations and to the standing of Parliament;

(c) the limited opportunities for persons other than members of Parliament to respond to allegations made in Parliament;

(d) the need for Senators, while fearlessly performing their duties, to have regard to the rights of others; and

(e) the desirability of ensuring that statements reflecting adversely on persons are soundly based.

(2) That the President, whenever the President considers that it is desirable to do so, may draw the attention of the Senate to the spirit and the letter of this resolution.

I do not say that to detract in any way from anything that Senator Baume said. But, seeing that the matter was raised, I thought I should bring it to the attention of the Senate.

  Debate (on motion by Senator Faulkner) adjourned.