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Wednesday, 5 December 1973
Page: 2522

The PRESIDENT - Order! I have no recollection that it was the subject of a debate in the current session.

Senator Cavanagh - But you could find out whether it was.

The PRESIDENT - Order! I do not intend to. I want to go to bed. I call Senator Webster.

Senator Cavanagh - And you are not concerned with Standing Orders?

The PRESIDENT - Order ! Senator Cavanagh, I am concerned with the fact that any senator sitting in this place has a right to oppose the motion for the adjournment and that is the device that Senator Webster is using.

Senator Cavanagh - Even if it is contrary to the Standing Orders?

The PRESIDENT - I cannot accept from the honourable senator a declaration of that order and nature. I call Senator Webster.

Senator WEBSTER -The main point I wish to make is that Senator McLaren in his speech, in which he kindly used my name 22 times, made a statement regarding a Mr Lawrence Edgar. In the further declaration which Senator McLaren read, this Mr Lawrence Edgar apparently made a statement about Mr A. Albany approaching him to sign a petition against acquisition of land.

I have received a letter from Mr A. S. Albany of Post Office Box 39146, Winnellie, Darwin, Northern Territory. His letter states:

Dear Sir,

I wish to bring to your notice, certain comments made about myself by Senator McLaren during the Senate Debate on the Acquisition of Land in the Northern Territory on the 11th October 1973. These comments are recorded on pages 1168 and 1 1 69 of the Senate Hansard.

I feel that these comments are an injustice to my privilege as a free Australian Citizen, and, as lies, are detrimental to not only my personal character, but also to the welfare of my wife and family.

I have been in contact with my solicitors who have advised me there is very little I can do, because what was said, was under parliamentary privilege.

I pause there in reading the letter to make the point that it is the Government which at this stage is bringing forward to the Senate a Bill dealing with human rights -

The PRESIDENT - Order! Senator Webster, now you are starting to stray.

Senator WEBSTER - I continue to quote from the letter:

It is to the following matters of concern that I draw your attention:

There are 5 matters that Mr Albany says are a little astray from the truth. I will deal with one or two of them. Perhaps Senator McLaren at an appropriate stage, even on another night, may advise the Senate of whether this is correct. The letter goes on that Senator McLaren stated as reported at page 1 168 of Hansard:

I know Mr Albert Albany and I know where his land is. '

Mr Albanysays in his letter:

I personally have never met, spoken or written to Senator McLaren, so I cannot see how he would know me. It is possible that he may have erred, and should have said, 'I know of Mr Albert Albany'.

2.   Page 1 168-Senator McLAREN-'This is the person who is capitalising on what the Government is trying to do. '

The letter goes on to state:

I wish to inform you that I, in association with other interested parties have been trying to subdivide my land for the purpose of establishing a satellite town or suburb since 1969. My latest proposals were submitted to the Administrator on 11th July 1972, by an Australian and World renowned Consultant Company. To date this application has never been rejected.

A number of points are made, but in particular I wish to refer to what was stated on page 1 169 by Senator McLaren. As Mr Albany points out, Senator McLaren said: 'But in the main the biggest majority of them are in support of government action'. That is untrue because Mr Albany goes on to say:

My mathematical knowledge informs me that 5 per cent is not a majority.

He is referring to those who signed the petition in question as being in support ofthe Government:

It appears to me that Senator McLaren must consider the 95 per cent majority to be a gerrymander petition.

The PRESIDENT - Order! Senator Webster, you raised the matter in the adjournment debate by saying that you wished to draw the attention ofthe Senate to a matter of privilege. When you referred to the matter raised by Senator Cavanagh, you were in the clear. Now, you are getting into an area in which you are reviving a debate.

Senator WEBSTER -Mr President,I must acknowledge that you prompt my debate. Indeed, I do not take the point kindly. I am quoting from what has been said by a citizen outside the Senate who believes there has been a breach of his rights. I believe that it is fair for me to put the points that he raises. . -

The PRESIDENT - Senator Webster,I am telling you what is the interpretation, the practice and the context of the Standing Orders. In other words, it is only a warning shot across your bows for the time being.

Senator WEBSTER - I acknowledge the warning shots that are fired. I acknowledge ako that we could be here for a long time while we debate this matter if that is what is desired. I note, Mr President, that I gave you my name first to speak on the adjournment debate this evening. You elected to call Senator Little first, which you are quite at liberty to do. We may have some dissention on that matter also. _2. '.

The PRESIDENT - Order! That is not correct. Senator Webster, in that context you are not aware of what order I was informed or as to how I would give the call. That has nothing to do with the order in which honourable senators come to me and inform me that they wish to speak. I will call honourable senators as I see them. In fact, in the order that the names have been put on my list which I have here on my desk in front of me, Senator Little was in front of you anyway.

Senator WEBSTER - I just make the point that I was the one who gave you Senator Little's name before he gave it to you.

The PRESIDENT - Order! Senator Webster, I am not going to debate this. I will not allow you to make these observations. Senator Little informed me in the corridors earlier today that he intended to speak on the adjournment. Now, that is all there is to it.

Senator WEBSTER -The point I was making is important to a citizen beyond the Senate. He was very concerned that the allegations should have been made that Senator McLaren had some person knowledge of the citizen. The citizen has written to me and told me that that is not a fact. He goes on to say in a number of other respects that Senator McLaren was probably astray. He was concerned about the fact of the declaration that Senator McLaren had read from Mr L. Edgar. The letter I h'aVe indicates that the statement which Senator McLaren made was inconsistent with what Mr Albany knew of the particular petition that had been taken around. The letter states:

Mr L.Edgar, who was the only person who refused to sign the petition and who admits to being a member of the Labor Party, advised me that a Mr Peter Denholm a leading light in the Labor Party in the Northern Territory advised him that if the land was compulsorily acquired he would see that Mr Edgar would be permitted to stop on his land, and that he would see that an all-weather road would be built to give Mr Edgar access to his property. Mr Edgar was acceptable to this, as the only legal physical access he has is inaccessible in the wet season. Since this man drank S cans of beer during our discussion, I very much doubt he could remember what he said in any case.

It is important that the civil rights of individuals be preserved. Perhaps it is an unimportant matter to the senators who laugh and who undoubtedly are affected from their activities earlier in the evening, but they should not laugh when a statement is made in criticism of an outside person. I come now to the point of Senator Gietzelt whom I have advised -

Government Senators- Oh, oh.

Senator WEBSTER -Senators say 'oh, oh,' and make a great statement- and it is a great statement. Again, Mr President, I hope I have your approval in bringing up what was said in the Senate on 15 November. This matter appears in the Senate daily Hansard of Thursday, 15 November. It is interesting that Government senators laugh about this matter. They are well aware of what it is about and of the scurrilous attack that was made on a member of Parliament in another State, yet they are willing to laugh it off. I think they should be ashamed of themselves. Senator Gietzelt started to speak on the adjournment at 6.58 p.m. on Thursday, 15 November, 2 days before the New South Wales election, when the New South Wales Parliament was about to adjourn and would not sit again before the election.

Senator Wright - Truly cowardly tactics.

Senator WEBSTER -Yes, they are a cowardly pack all right. Senator Gietzelt said:

I wish to raise a matter of the utmost gravity- a matter which can only be described as one ofthe greatest political scandals of the century in this country. The allegation has been made that the Attorney-General of New South Wales, Mr Ken McCaw, personally intervened to stop the investigation and prosecution of Alexander Barton and Thomas Barton who have been responsible for the loss of almost $2Sm by the public of Australia. These 2 master swindlers have been protected by the Attorney-General of New South Wales- the Minister charged with upholding the law in that state.

The investigation officer of the Corporate Affairs Commission of New South Wales is prepared to go before a public inquiry or royal commission and say that because he had ample evidence that they had been guilty of fraud and misrepresentation he contacted the Bartons solicitors, McCaw, Johnson and Company and told them he wanted to interview the Bartons.

Almost immediately, the investigating officer says, he was summoned to the office of the New South Wales AttorneyGeneral and told by Mr McCaw -

Senator Wheeldon - I rise on a point of order, Mr President. My point of order is that this is tedious repetition. Reading from a Hansard record of a debate which took place only a few nights ago would seem to me clearly to come within the boundaries of tedious repetition. All honourable senators, if they wish to read Hansard, are perfectly able to do so, and all of them who were present on the last occasion have already heard all of this.

The PRESIDENT - I suggest, Senator Webster, that you should take the salient points of Senator Gietzelt's speech, if you wish, and make a case about something that you have not yet disclosed, and not read out the whole speech.

Senator WEBSTER - I realise that it is 1 1.30 p.m. However, perhaps it is necessary to put the whole case so that we understand the situation. I had reached the point where the report of Senator Gietzelt's speech states:

Almost immediately, the investigating officer says, he was summoned to the office of the New South Wales AttorneyGeneral and told by Mr McCaw that he, McCaw, did not want him to proceed any further with the investigation of the Bartons.

I interrupt my reading to take up the point made by Senator Wheeldon. He said that this is tedious repetition and that all Government senators know about this, but I wonder where there is a Government senator with any stomach at all to get up and make some amendment to the dastardly statement made by Senator Gietzelt. Government senators are all quiet now. If I may, I will read another short paragraph and that will complete what I want to read from the Hansard report of Senator Gietzelt's speech. Senator Gietzelt continued:

This is the most flagrant case of political protection of malpractice yet to surface in this country. There can be no doubt that had this prosecution been launched the public would have been warned and at least some of the funds invested in the Barton companies would have been saved by the public.

Undoubtedly Government senators read about this matter in today's newspapers. A headline in the 'Sydney Morning Herald' states: 'Official says McCaw did not stop prosecution'. In an attempt to be brief, I will read one or two paragraphs from this article, and I may ask the Senate to give me leave to incorporate the statutory declaration that Mr Pengelly made. The article states:

The Commissioner for Corporate Affairs, Mr F. J. 0. Ryan, has denied that the Attorney-General, Mr McCaw, ordered stoppage of the prosecution in late 1970 or early 1971 of a company controlled by Alexander Barton.

Senator Wheeldon - I rise again on the same point of order, that this is tedious repetition. We have had Hansard read to us and now we are having this morning's 'Sydney Morning Herald' read to us. We are all capable of reading the

Sydney Morning Herald', without the adjournment debate being given over to a reading of it.

The PRESIDENT - Order! There is no point of order. It may be tedious to you, Senator Wheeldon, but to others it may be extraordinarily interesting. It is not repetitious.

Senator WEBSTER - It is tedious to me that I have to read it over, but I am afraid that Senator Wheeldon prompts the point. Government senators read about this matter this morning, but they did not have enough stomach to come here and apologise for what has been said about Mr McCaw. That is an indication of the strength of the honourable senator who spoke and who laughs in such a comical fashion. This article continues:

Mr Pengelly'sstatutory declaration was made on Friday, November 16, the eve ofthe last State elections, at which Mr Pengelly was a Labor candidate.

I hope that is not tedious repetition for those experts on the Government side. The article continues:

It was made following a charge by Sentor A. Gietzelt (Labor) in the Senate on November IS, that Mr McCaw had told a companies officer in 1970 that he did not want him to proceed any further with 'the investigation ofthe Bartons'.

Another part of the article states:

Hisdeclaration does not confirm Senator Gietzelt 's charge.

I have marked this statutory declaration in various places which gives the he to the point that was made in this Senate 2 days before the New South Wales State election. So that this debate will not go on for a great length of time, I seek the permission of the Senate to include in full the statutory declaration made by Mr Pengelly.

Senator Wheeldon - Mr President,I raise a point of order. Senator Webster is seeking leave to incorporate a statutory declaration. Would you ask him whether he has the statutory declaration with him? I believe that if it is to be incorporated it will have to be produced.

The PRESIDENT - Senator Webster,are you seeking leave to include it?

Senator WEBSTER -Mr President,I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard a copy of the statutory declaration.

Senator Wheeldon - No.

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No.

Senator Greenwood - Do you deny leave?

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes.

The PRESIDENT - Order! Is leave granted?

Senator Douglas McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No.

Senator WEBSTER -On some future day the Senate may perhaps see fit to take this matter further. I note that the Government has denied me the right to have the statutory declaration incorporated. I do not wish to delay the Senate any further. However, Senator Gietzelt undoubtedly accused Mr McCaw of protecting the Bartons. Senator Gietzelt 's charge is not supported by a shred of evidence. In fact, it is denied in the statutory declaration. I consider that Senator Gietzelt should apologise to Mr McCaw.

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