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Wednesday, 4 December 1974
Page: 3141

Senator WHEELDON (Western AustraliaMinister for Repatriation and Compensation) - I was particularly interested in the last words of Senator Greenwood in which he said that the corruption of the Government had extended to its officers. Senator Greenwood has said tonight that the First Assistant Commissioner of Taxation is corrupt. He said that he will repeat his statements outside the Parliament. He has made that offer, and I here and now ask Senator Greenwood to go outside the Senate and say outside the Senate what he has said tonight, that the First Assistant Commissioner of Taxation is corrupt. I know that he will not do it. I know that he is relying on the protection of Parliament. I know that he said it because these proceedings are being broadcast. I know that this braggadocio about what he will say outside Parliament will not be lived up to. I guarantee here and now to anybody who was listening to Senator Greenwood that he will not have the courage, that he will not have the honesty, that he will not have the calibre of a man to step outside this Senate and repeat what he just said about a responsible officer of the Taxation Office of this country, a man who was appointed by the previous Government. We know that he will not. Let us judge him tomorrow. Let us question him tomorrow about what he has done when he has sat in his cowardice and made this accusation against a man who is unable to defend himself. I do not intend to engage in the tedious -

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! I will not have you reflect on another senator in any way. I ask you to withdraw that remark.

Senator WHEELDON - Mr Deputy President,if you are asking me to withdraw, I do withdraw, but in doing so I would remind you that we have just been accused by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition of being corrupt. No requirement to withdraw was made then.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- Order! There is a difference in this place between a party being said to be corrupt or a group being suggested as being corrupt and saying directly to a member of the Parliament that he may be cowardly or some other such matter. Thank you for withdrawing.

Senator WHEELDON - I will withdraw, but I will not engage in the tedious repetition of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition whose paranoia seems to increase with the number of Liberal senators who vacate the benches when he speaks. It is interesting to note that he no sooner gets to his feet than the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate (Senator Withers) and the Opposition Whip find it necessary to leave the chamber. One can have full sympathy with them for doing so.

But what is it that he said tonight? He said that there was a corrupt operation engaged in by the Government or its agent- in this case, the First Assistant Commissioner of Taxation, Mr Curtin. Senator Greenwood, in order to prove the dishonesty of the First Assistant Commissioner of Taxation, has established for our benefit that he was related to the former Prime Minister, Mr John Curtin. This no doubt is part of his corrupt motive, according to the mind of Senator Greenwoodthe man, if he is related to John Curtin, must of necessity be corrupt. I take it that is the point he is making to us tonight. He said that the corrupt First Assistant Commissioner of Taxation under the direction of a corrupt government has made some arrangement whereby donations can be made to the John Curtin House Appeal. It is interesting that he makes these allegations while Parliament is being broadcast and it is interesting that he makes them while he is under privilege and without casting any moral aspersions. I once again repeat that it will be interesting to see whether he carries out his promise and repeats his allegation of corruption against the First Assistant Commissioner outside this chamber. He need not fear that we shall forget that he has made this allegation.

What is it that he said? He said that a corrupt arrangement was made by the corrupt First Assistant Commissioner of Taxation under the direction of a corrupt government. This question was put yesterday in the House of Representatives by his friend Mr Fraser, the man who wanted to become the Leader of the Opposition and take over that good permanent job from Mr Snedden. That same allegation was made by way of a question asked yesterday of the Treasurer (Mr Crean). The Treasurer answered the question admirably. He answered the question completely and, in fact, the arrangement which the First Assistant Commissioner of Taxation specified in his letter to the secretary of the John Curtin House Appeal was precisely in the same terms as the arrangement which was made when the appeal was made for John McEwen House on behalf of the Australian Country Party. It is exactly the same arrangement which occurred under the previous Government- exactly the same arrangement. Yet Senator Greenwood comes along tonight and says that we are corrupt when precisely the same arrangement was made for the benefit of the Country Party under the previous Government. The question has been answered already in the House of Representatives; already it has been dealt with.

I have grave doubts that any of the Press will be carrying Senator Greenwood's story. I think the Press has lost interest in him except out of some sort of curiosity. The Australian Labor Party can certainly stand up to anything that Senator Greenwood has to offer but I think it is a disgraceful situation that a public servant should have made against him an allegation of the nature that Senator Greenwood has made tonight. I believe that this shows the level of Senator Greenwood. I must say in fairness to them that I do not think what has been said reflects, generally speaking, the views of members of the Liberal Party. I doubt whether the allegations of corruption will be repeated by other members of the Liberal Party. It is interesting that Senator Greenwood's own leader and his Party's Whip chose quite ostentatiously to leave the chamber as soon as he started to speak. I think the people of Australia will be able to judge how much reliance they can place on Senator Greenwood 's evidence, how much reliance they can place on Senator Greenwood's integrity, and how much reliance they can place on Senator Greenwood's word when they see whether outside this Senate he repeats all that he has said tonight, as he promised to do while he was speaking.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- I call Senator Bishop.

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