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Tuesday, 15 August 1972
Page: 18

Senator O'BYRNE - My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Does the Attorney-General know enough about the presence of an American crime syndicate operating in Australia to be able to identify members of it as not being members of the Mafia? Does the continual reference by the Attorney-General to the existence of the Mafia in Australia not impute criminal involvement to a section of the Italian community in Australia and by repeatedly using the word 'Mafia' does he not compound the insult to the Italians in Australia?

The PRESIDENT - Senator O'Byrne,I have on 2 or 3 occasions already expressed my concern about the manner in which certain questions have been phrased, but you have deliberately gone and asked a rhetorical question, given information and heaven knows what else. Please ask your question.

Senator O'BYRNE - It is an explicit question, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT - lt has not been explicit so far.

Senator O'BYRNE - Will the AttorneyGeneral explicitly admit that the presence of organised criminal groups in New South Wales reflects on the Liberal-Country Party governments responsible for the enforcement of federal laws on immigration and the introduction of foreign money, as well as New South Wales criminal laws.

The PRESIDENT - I direct that question to be placed on notice.

Senator Greenwood - Mr President-

The PRESIDENT - Do you wish to answer the question?

Senator Greenwood - Yes.

The PRESIDENT - I have ordered the question to be placed on notice, which I am entitled to do.

Senator GREENWOOD - I seek leave to make a personal explanation in the light of the imputations which were made, which were quite unfounded and which 1 feel 1 ought to have the opportunity of rebutting.

The PRESIDENT - On those grounds, 1 call the Attorney-General.

Senator GREENWOOD - I want to say quite categorically that there is no basis for Senator O'Byrne's statement that I had used the word 'Mafia' in regard to organised crime in this country. There is absolutely no statement to which he can point-

Senator O'Byrne - Yesterday's statement in the 'Australian*.

Senator GREENWOOD - ... in which I have used the word 'Mafia' at any time to categorise what is called organised crime from the United States. I heard Senator O'Byrne refer by way of interjection to yesterday's 'Australian'. My recollection of reading yesterday's 'Australian' is that it did not make any such imputation. If it did it is an incorrect report of a Press release I gave in which I said quite emphatically that there was no evidence to indicate that the Mafia was involved. I went on to say further - it is disgraceful that Senator O'Byrne should come into this place and make a statement categorically the opposite- that it was unfair to use that word and to impute to the Italian commun ity in this country that it was in some way involved. 1 can only say that 1 am appreciative of the opportunity that you have given me, Mr President, to set right what was an unfounded and unwarranted assertion with absolutely nothing to back it up.

Senator O'Byrne - I seek leave to make a personal explanation, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT - Do you claim to have been misrepresented by the AttorneyGeneral?

Senator O'Byrne - Yes. I quoted from a statement in yesterday's 'Australian' attributed to the Attorney-General which said, amongst other things:

He said there was no evidence to suggest that any of the criminals were members of the Mafia.

Senator Greenwood - I quite agree that that is what I said. Senator O'Byrne has been saying that I have been saying precisely the opposite.

Senator O'Byrne - You have been saying that the Mafia is present in Australia but you have not been doing anything about it.

The PRESIDENT - Order!

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