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Thursday, 15 November 1973
Page: 1884

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - I know nothing of the background except what I read in the newspapers concerning the Barton affairs but I have heard what Senator Gietzelt said tonight and I recalled what I read in the newspapers this afternoon of a statement by Mr McCaw following an accusation of similar import which was made yesterday by Senator Mulvihill and which received very considerable publicity in the newspapers this morning. According to the report, Mr McCaw said:

This false allegation was based in anonymity and uttered in malice under parliamentary privilege to try to help his New South Wales Labor colleagues in Saturday's election.

It is beneath contempt for Federal Labor politicians to use the Canberra Parliament's cloak of privilege to falsely smear innocent people for blatant electioneering purposes.

Nothing of the son ever occurred, and this is just another proof that smear tactics are the only policy and technique of Federal and New South Wales Labor politicians.

Mr Ryanis the Commissioner of Corporate Affairs in New South Wales and he stated, as reported in the same newspaper, the Sydney Sun':

At this stage, I want to make it clear that at no time during his term of office has Mr McCaw interfered or given any direction as to the course of any investigation being undertaken.

As Attorney-General, he has always acted on my recommendations in regard to the Commission's inquiries.

I find it incredible that Senator Gietzelt has not read the Sydney 'Sun' this afternoon and that in the face of what appears in that newspaper. That he should come in here and make an allegation, without giving the basis for it, which is completely contradictory of what Mr McCaw said this afternoon, is one of the basest uses of parliamentary privilege that one can imagine. I agree with what Mr McCaw says. There are some

Labor politicians from the State of New South Wales who do use this Senate to smear -

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - You name them.

Senator GREENWOOD -Senator Gietzelt and Senator Murphy, and the record establishes it quite clearly. They have used this Parliament to accuse people of dreadful crimes and to so impute to them a name and a notoriety such that they can scarcely hold themselves up afterwards as worthy citizens. It is a disgraceful use of free speech in the Parliament and I echo every word that Senator Wright has said. If Senator Gietzelt wants to have an inquiry let him put the facts, the basic material for an inquiry, and I am sure that he will not find this Senate unresponsive. But to come forward with simply innuendo and allegation in the face of categorical denial by the man he is accusing is quite insufficient.

We have seen Senator Gietzelt speaking in relation to pistol licences, Senator Wheeldon making allegations of bribery, and Senator Mulvihill making accusations against Mr McCaw, all at question time in the week before an election in New South Wales. Of course, they secured the desired result. There was some publicity of the fact that the questions were asked. And what do we have happening on the night that the Senate adjourns at 7 o'clock? Unaccustomed though it is, we have the Press gallery present. Is it by sheer chance that they are here? It may be; I do not know. But I have the suspicion that they were aware that something was to be said. This is our democratic procedure but I do wish the Press would exercise responsibility when they report something which occurred in the Parliament, when the impact of it is to do damage to individuals who may be innocent. That is for the Press to decide. I have always believed that one of the real problems of our society is how that responsibility is exercised. But if it be that this is an accusation made by design with malice for electioneering purposes, irrespective of the harm it does to individuals, it is the basest and most contemptible sort of actions that individuals can engage in.

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