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Thursday, 27 June 1996
Page: 2440

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —Well, I seek leave—I seek similar leave.

Leave granted.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. There are two matters. The first is that Senator Knowles seems to be incapable of comprehending the definition of truth. I did not wish to labour the point, and the great mistake you ever make in politics is to pick up somebody's trivial comment and make a big deal of it because, in itself, it becomes a big deal. Senator Knowles is known widely in Liberal Party circles for describing a relationship with Senator Durack as a definition of necrophilia. I had just flicked that past as—

Senator Alston —Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. My understanding is that Senator Crichton-Browne has sought leave to make a personal explanation in response to remarks made by Senator Knowles. That is consistent with the view that we all adopt—that where people feel themselves maligned they ought to have the opportunity to explain themselves. But I do not think that licence extends to repeating comments about other members of this parliament. That is not a personal explanation; that is simply an opportunity to make criticisms of others. I would therefore ask that you confine Senator Crichton-Browne to explaining matters that have reflected adversely upon him.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I uphold that point of order. Senator Crichton-Browne, if you wish to make a further personal explanation you must confine it to those remarks that were made by Senator Knowles.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —With the greatest respect, Mr Acting Deputy President—and I admire your intrinsic wisdom—I thought I was doing that.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Those remarks that reflect on you, I should say.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —For goodness sake, they do, because Senator Knowles has alleged that what I said was untrue. Of course it reflects on me. A man of dignity and of integrity can easily be offended by any suggestion that he is doing less than telling the full truth.

The other matter—having dealt with the first which demonstrates the way that Senator Knowles struggles with the truth—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Crichton-Browne, you cannot debate the issue. You can—

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —I am not debating the issue. I am responding to her allegations. She has made certain assertions against me and I am responding. That is pretty clear, with the greatest respect. Senator Knowles alleged in the media, nationally, that she was under police protection as she had received death threats from me. Of course, the Federal and state police both put statements out which demonstrated that it was a fabrication of hers and a flight of fantasy in her mind. Subsequently—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Crichton-Browne, you cannot reflect on another senator.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —I am not reflecting on her.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —You can make a personal explanation.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —I will just tell you the truth. The Federal Police, contrary to Senator Knowles's view, put out a press statement saying it was all nonsense. And so did the state police. What she said was a reflection upon me—utterly and totally untrue, unsubstantiated and without a shred of evidence, and in fact deserves to be referred by this chamber to the privileges committee. I would be delighted to see that happen, I would be delighted to give evidence, and I would be delighted to have Senator Knowles do exactly the same thing.

I can think of no less unpleasant allegation against a senator than to have that sort of assertion made. She made it on the ABC and she subsequently made it on Radio 6PR in Perth. As far as I am concerned, that demonstrates the level of integrity, honesty and fairness, and the capacity for truthfulness—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —That is not a personal explanation. You are now reflecting on another senator.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —Thank you for that wise advice. I might say that Senator Knowles's claims are utterly untrue and I am looking forward, with both hands in deep pockets, to having that tested in the appropriate forum.