LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
Debate resumed from an earlier hour.
(Monaro) [8.08]: Earlier I was relating to the House that in the first instance this motion was a censure of the Leader of the Opposition for the inconsistent application of ethical standards he applied to his party members. I drew the attention of the House to the fact that it was not doing the image of parliamentarians a great deal of good to be debating these types of issues when the entire State is 93 per cent drought declared. We could be dealing with far more important issues. I realise that it is not the choice of many honourable members to be debating the motion, nevertheless we are debating it. I also stated that we need to set standards and a code of ethics which should be implemented on the basis of honour, and that we should cater for a code that takes into account the behaviour of honourable members in their electorates, in the Parliament and in public.
I said also that the Leader of the Opposition had made considerable mention of former members of Parliament who, for whatever reason, had judgment passed on them in the House, their party room or a court of law, had been dealt with and those matters had long past. I said that I believed Premier Greiner was an honest Premier who had maintained the ethical standards demanded by this Parliament. Much more could have been said by the Leader of the Opposition in his somewhat overzealous way. He seemed pleased that the debate would further denigrate the standards by which people measure members of Parliament.
I was disturbed to hear the Leader of the Opposition question the ethical standards set by our current Premier. I should not have to remind the House that it was this Government which introduced the Independent Commission Against Corruption. It was this Government that set standards for a ministerial code of conduct and those standards are being applied. I was gravely concerned that the Leader of the Opposition raised issues relating to the honourable member for Blue Mountains and the honourable member for Georges River. Both issues have been considered by the relevant authorities and have had those ethical standards applied to them, all of which leads me to conclude that this Government is applying those ethical standards evenly and equitably to all members of the Parliament.
That stands in stark contrast with the Leader of the Opposition, which is why I said that this is a valid motion. The Leader of the Opposition has been the judge, jury and hangman of the honourable member for St Marys who, by anyone's standards, should be innocent until proven guilty. However, the Leader of the Opposition has seen fit to publicly condemn the honourable member for St Marys. The manner in which the Leader of the Opposition has treated the honourable member for Campbelltown sustains the argument that his application of ethical standards to members of his party is inconsistent. Further, in relation to the honourable member for Campbelltown,
paragraph 26 of the police report of which I have a copy from the Police Service states in part, "persons suspected of corrupt conduct". They were suspected, not tried before a court, but the suspicion was there. Paragraph 26 states, "The following persons played a key role in these events and are suspected of corrupt conduct. They are: Francis John Walker, Minister for Housing during the time of the offences, Michael Stephen Knight, MP for Campbelltown, and Phil Raskall the former head of the Economic Development Unit, Department of Housing". It is also stated that attempts to interview all of these persons had been negative.
I should have thought that if the Leader of the Opposition were to apply the same principles to the honourable member for Campbelltown as he applied to the honourable member for St Marys, the honourable member for Campbelltown would not be on the frontbench, a position that he currently occupies. In the case of the honourable member for St Marys, clearly he has to prove his innocence before he can get endorsement by the Australian Labor Party, yet having made his judgment, the Leader of the Opposition is not taking any formal action against the honourable member for St Marys. Though he has passed judgment on him, he has not referred the matter to the ICAC or the police, and it is not up to any honourable member on this side of the House to pass judgment on the honourable member for St Marys or the honourable member for Campbelltown. The due process of the law takes account of those matters and that is precisely why I claim that on this side of the House we have at all times adhered to the principles and code of ethics for Ministers and ethical standards applied to members of these parties.
The honourable member for Port Stephens interjects with Matt Singleton. It is a shame the honourable member was not here earlier. He would have heard me refer to the previous member for Coffs Harbour. The previous member for Coffs Harbour was dealt with by the Premier of the day, who applied ethical standards from which the honourable member for Port Stephens could learn a deal. The standard that he sets by his interjections does not enhance his image in his electorate or in this Chamber. The honourable member for Port Stephens is probably the greatest asset the Government has apart from the Leader of the Opposition. I am delighted to have the honourable member visit my electorate any time, because every time he steps off the plane he is worth a thousand votes. The people of the forestry industry think he is a fool. The people of the fishing industry think he is a fool.
I will name them. The Forest Products Association thinks you are an absolute moron.
The lot of them. They all think that. The honourable member should ask the fishing industry on the South Coast. They think he is an absolute moron. The honourable member cannot dispute the ethical behaviour and the standards set by former Premier Nick Greiner or Premier John Fahey. In every case Premier Fahey has sustained and is still sustaining the standards on each and every one of the incidents that have been brought before him by the Opposition or any institution of law in this State. The honourable member cannot argue against that because that is the case and that is where the Opposition amendment to this motion will fail. We can prove unequivocally that we have maintained our standards, but that is not the case with the Opposition.
Opposition members have double standards, one set for the honourable member for St Marys who has been tried and executed by his leader yet the honourable member for Port Stephens sat there and let him go. Great mate, this fellow! Never leave your mates behind is what the honourable member for Port Stephens says. I would not like him standing behind me as a mate. The principles that have been applied in the case of these two members referred to in this motion are unquestionably inconsistent. On the one hand we have the honourable member for St Marys who, according to the news today, paid an electricity account for the club of which he was secretary. That may well be an honourable thing to do. As a local member it may not have been prudent so far as his accounts were concerned, but at least his heart was in the right place. But Opposition members have dumped on him. Have they ever considered for a moment that he might be innocent? The honourable member for St Marys has not been before a court, yet his leader condemns him publicly. The honourable member for Port Stephens may well smirk about this, but one day he may be in the same position himself, and I wonder whether the honourable member for St Marys will be smirking then.
I think there was some glee in the eye of the Leader of the Opposition when this motion was brought before the House. He saw it as an opportunity to drop a bucket on the Government. If we look carefully at the wording of the motion we see that it asks whether we have consistently applied ethical standards on this side of the House. Unquestionably, the answer is yes. I do not think it would be in the best interests of the Opposition to start a major debate on the question of ethics. We could refer to the Labor Party of Western Australia. We could talk about instances at Enmore. Peter Baldwin got his head bashed in by members of the Labor Party. He is currently a Minister in the Federal Parliament - and he had his head kicked in by members of the Labor Party.
Order! I call the honourable member for Kiama to order.
The Labor Party does not have a proud record of honesty and integrity; it has a record of thuggery, dishonesty and sending the States broke one by one - Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. Western Australia is a proud record for the ALP, is it not?
Order! I call the honourable member for Port Stephens to order.
The honourable member for Port Stephens said that I was an Australian Security Intelligence Organisation spy. I place on record that I am proud of the fact that I worked for ASIO for seven years. I am bound by the Official Secrets Act, but during that time much was done to defend this country against a variety of subversive activities which the honourable member may well be pleased to know about one day if he ever broadens his mind enough to take into account some of those issues. The ASIO is administered by the Federal Government - Paul Keating and crew. During the time I was employed with the organisation, it was administered by Bob Hawke - who is currently in dispute with Paul Keating. If I was not bound by the Official Secrets Act I could tell honourable members a thing or two about what happened during the time he was Prime Minister. It would embarrass the hell out of Opposition members.
Order! I call the honourable member for Smithfield to order for the third time.
If I ever get a chance to write my memoirs, Labor Party members can bet their bottom dollar that they will all know about it. In conclusion, the Government can hold its head high as having applied ethical standards which have set standards to be applied across the country. The Independent Commission Against Corruption has taken into account allegations of corruption. As I said earlier, the ICAC has been used to a large degree, regrettably, to intimidate and threaten people in various circumstances. I proudly support the motion of the honourable member for Eastwood. I condemn the Opposition for having even suggested that either the former Premier, Nick Greiner, or the current Premier, John Fahey, in any way or at any time have been inconsistent in their application of ethical standards to members of both parties.
(Campbelltown) [8.24]: I suppose I should be flattered. At around 11.00 a.m. on Tuesday my colleagues in the parliamentary Labor Party gave me the honour of representing them on the frontbench. By about 2.30 p.m. the Government wanted to raise allegations about my pecuniary interest declaration on matters that had been openly declared on the public record. By Wednesday the Government wanted to dredge up matters to do with a 1987 housing development in what is now the electorate of Camden - a matter that has been dealt with, examined and disposed of by the Auditor-General. Today the Government has resurrected Task Force Anode, the politically motivated police inquiry into Frank Walker. I will have some more to say about that later. I am grateful that the Parliament is not sitting tomorrow, because I am sure the Government would have dragged out my primary school reports, including the most serious incident with the water pistol in 1959.
Why is the Government obsessed with all these old, outdated, disposed of and completely irrelevant matters? Is it something I have said to upset the Government? Was it something I said about Tony Packard being a criminal and bugging his customers? Was it something I said about Neil Pickard, who was found to have misappropriated public funds? Was it something I said about the honourable member for Wakehurst ripping off a widow to the tune of $1 million? Was it something I said, along with my colleagues, about the honourable member for Blue Mountains who is before the courts on serious criminal matters?
Was it something I said about the honourable member for Georges River? I would be very surprised if he is not soon before the courts on very serious matters? Was it something I said about Phillip Smiles, who was hounded out of the Parliament? Was it something I said about the Olympic Games blow-out? Was it something I said about the scandal in the Victims Compensation Tribunal? Was it something I said about Eastern Creek? Was it something I said about the costs involved in the GIO privatisation? There have been many other waste and mismanagement matters. Let me make one thing abundantly clear: the Government can tell as many lies about me in the Parliament as it likes; it will not divert me from telling the truth about the Government.
Tell the truth about yourself, Michael.
I will get to the honourable member for Eastwood in a minute. I am working my way down the food chain. He should just wait his turn. I will deal with some of the matters the Government has raised. On Tuesday the Government raised questions about my trip to Atlanta. Yes, I committed the unforgivable sin: I went to look at the preparations for the Atlanta Olympics to see what we could learn and how New South Wales could save money. Honourable members can be sure that the Government is not happy about that - it is not happy that I went, and it is not happy that the people treated me a lot better than it treated the Ministers who went to Atlanta, because they thought I was serious about the issue rather than junketing at the taxpayers' expense. The Government is not happy about what I have learnt, what I have written and what it will hear in the future.
I refer to public housing in Ambarvale. I make no apologies for supporting the construction of public housing on a site next to the railway station, next to the major shopping facilities and near the Campbelltown public hospital - the one site in the area that provided the best range of facilities. Members of the present Government wanted to see that land sold off to foreign interests, to Malaysian and Hong Kong businessmen. I supported the proposal that that land go to public housing for the citizens of this State. There was an ethical problem. The Liberal Party candidate for the seat of Camden, the current MLC Hon. J. F. Ryan, started to stir up bigotry and distress in the electorate. He whipped up a campaign and said, "We don't want these dirty, grubby public housing tenants in our suburb". That was the ethical problem.
The Hon. J. F. Ryan did not want people to get homes. He did not want that project built. That was the ethical problem, and it went a little further than that. John Ryan stirred up this trouble when he was supposed to be on sick leave from his job as a schoolteacher at Sarah Redfern High School. While his students were preparing for the higher school certificate he abandoned them, put in for sick leave and was reported in the Daily Telegraph Mirror
as attacking public housing tenants. There was an ethical problem there. I took a role in settling that situation down, unashamedly, and claiming the credit for it in the local media. I brokered a compromise between the residents that John Ryan had stirred up and the department. In the end the residents said, "We will cop public housing so long as it is detached dwellings, not medium density". The department then had to enter into some contractual compensation for the developer for variation of contract. I had nothing to do with that matter. It was brought on by John Ryan's naked attempt to stir up bigotry.
Let me deal now with today's matter - the so-called Task Force Anode. Not everyone in this House now was here before 1988 so I might remind them of the climate at that time. There was enormous hatred and bitterness between Frank Walker and Nick Greiner. Straight after the election Greiner instigated a police task force to go after Frank Walker. Greiner was pretty open about it. At one stage Frank Walker held a press conference complaining about it. Nick Greiner then sued him, but he did not proceed with the matter because he knew it was unsustainable. In May 1989 I was contacted by Task Force Anode. I recognised it as a witch-hunt that was politically motivated to go after Frank Walker. It was a political partisan attempt to use the police for improper purposes. At that stage Walker was a candidate for the marginal Federal seat of Robertson. My solicitor gave me certain advice about this matter. I want briefly to quote from two letters. The first is a letter my solicitor wrote to me on 30 May 1989. The second is a letter my solicitor wrote to Task Force Anode on 30 June in the same year. In part, the letter to me states:
I also confirm my verbal advices to you that in my humble opinion the questions submitted by the Police Department should not be replied to. The questions do not in any way allege any offences against any person. They therefore amount to what I would describe as a "fishing expedition" with very little basis.
As I said, my solicitor wrote also to Task Force Anode - to Detective Senior Constable Gary Bourke, one of the men on the witch-hunt job. This letter is very important because the Government alleged that I would not talk to the police. In part, that letter states:
Mr. Knight is always ready, willing and able to assist Police Officers in proper enquiries. However before answering any questions Mr. Knight will depend on the writer's advice as to whether the enquiry is a bona-fide enquiry and is being properly and legally conducted.
The writer is not prepared at this stage to advise Mr. Knight that it is a bona-fide enquiry. We require considerably more details as referred to above before we are prepared to make an assessment in respect of the same.
What did Task Force Anode do? When it received a letter from my solicitor stating, "If you can assure us that this is not a political witch-hunt and it is a fair dinkum inquiry into an alleged criminal offence, we will talk to you", we never heard from Task Force Anode again. Who was the solicitor who appeared on my behalf? One would always expect one's solicitor to be on one's side. The name of my solicitor was John Marsden. And how does the Government view John Marsden's advice on police legal matters? So highly that it put him on the Police Board! I have a letter from a man who this Government appointed a member of the Police Board and who has said that this was not a proper and legal inquiry. What did the police find? The police found that there was no offence. This was pretty embarrassing. Imagine being set up by the Premier to try to nail Frank Walker and to come back empty-handed! It would be a fairly embarrassing thing. The police tried to embellish their report a bit to cover their embarrassment and they said, "We really think they are dreadful, awful people. Of course, we cannot prove it because they will not tell us that they are dreadful, awful people".
Police forensic experience actually involves a little more skill and detection than that. If there was anything there, the police would have and should have found it. So the police said, "Refer it to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. We cannot find anything, so send it to the ICAC". It went to the ICAC. There are three things that the ICAC does with complaints. At the top level it sometimes holds public inquiries - certainly commissions of inquiry and hearings. That is what it did with the Peter Collins, Peter Blackmore, Wal Murray, Nick Greiner and Tim Moore references. I could go on ad nauseam. At the second level it conducts preliminary inquiries. It calmly interviews people and tries to decide whether there is enough evidence to go to a full inquiry. At the third level the ICAC says, "This is rubbish. This is malicious. It has nothing to do with us", and that is the end of it.
I am sure people can guess which of those three alternatives the ICAC took when it got the file from the police Task Force Anode. It said, "No further action. Nothing in there even warrants a preliminary private inquiry". That might be why the Government is so unhappy with the sort of people it is getting as ICAC commissioners. It now wants to appoint as the ICAC commissioner someone who put out politically motivated and partisan material during the Parramatta by-election campaign. What did the police and the Government do? This matter allegedly happened in 1987-88. The police found no evidence of any offence and the ICAC found nothing even worth investigating. The next step is for Government members to try to run it in the Parliament as a political vendetta. If ever anyone had any doubt that I was right back in 1989 in believing that the police were not genuine and were being used for political purposes, the proof of the pudding is right here today. Government members are hawking around the internal police report. Some of them may well have
committed criminal offences because of how they came by it. But we have seen members of the Government, backbenchers, Ministers and the Premier's No. 2 or No. 3 Press Secretary, Wayne Geddes, hawking it around the press gallery this afternoon.
There is prima facie evidence of some political corruption in this matter. It is political corruption of the independence of the police force by the Greiner and Fahey governments - trying to corrupt the police force and to use it for political purposes and then using material, however ineffective, for naked, political attacks. How that galls Government members! They set up a whole task force just to get Frank Walker, and what happened? They not only did not get him; he won the marginal Federal seat of Robertson. He then went into the Federal Parliament and became a Minister. Government members used public resources to try to nail that bloke for naked and personal political purposes, yet he is now in the Federal ministry. And what happened to the person who started it all? Nick Greiner got thrown out of the Parliament because his own creation, the ICAC, judged him to be corrupt. How that galls Government members!
Do honourable members in this Parliament or people in New South Wales seriously believe that, if this Government had one skerrick of evidence of criminality on my part - not enough to convict but just enough to try to justify bringing a losing prosecution - it would not have commenced such a prosecution? It has had seven years in which to try to do that. Of course, it has not done that because it has nothing. It knows that the matter has been disposed of. I want to deal briefly with some letters that went out to people on various occasions. It is not surprising that the Government and the police seem to confuse at least two different letters. There were the letters which Frank Walker sent to public housing tenants defending them against the attacks made upon them in public and the denigration that they suffered at the hands of John Ryan. The Auditor-General ruled that although that was done quite a way from an election, that was political. Frank Walker copped that decision and he paid up the money for those letters. Honourable members will find that anything else of a political nature sent out by individual candidates or Mr Walker did not involve public resources. They have been declared on Frank Walker's and other people's electoral funding returns.
The Government does not spend a lot of time looking at electoral funding returns because those documents are embarrassing for the Government. The returns from 1988 are particularly interesting. A few weeks after they were lodged I found three interesting things. I found that the Liberal Party funded the Independent candidates in Campbelltown and Camden. The people who ran as bona fide Independents gave their preferences to the Liberal Party and were funded out of Riley Street. The bills were paid by head office of the Liberal Party. I also found another fascinating set of returns for one Government Minister. His agent mistakenly put in a lot of receipts that he did not mean the public to see. No-one else can see them because the Minister snaffled them back very quickly, but I had a pretty good look at who was giving to his campaign and which interest group later benefited from his portfolio. We might talk about that in a bit more detail on another occasion. The third thing I found was the great rort that went through the organisation Community Polling run by Ministers of the Crown, Terry Metherell and Michael Yabsley.
It is significant that the person who is responsible for this pathetic attempt to muddy the waters today - the Premier - is not in the Chamber. He is not speaking. This motion originated in his office. I would not say he is the architect, because to be an architect you have to have a foundation to build on. This was a matter which he and some genius in his office and on the Liberal Party tactics committee thought might divert attention from the Government's inability to solve problems in health, public safety and education. Let us look not at the Premier's personal integrity - that is also for another time - but at his political integrity. Although he accuses the Leader of the Opposition of having double standards in ethical matters, no-one can accuse Premier John Fahey of being inconsistent in his ethical standards. They have been universally low.
I remind honourable members of the roll call of spivs and crooks that have been through the other side of this Parliament in recent years: Packard, Pickard, Hazzard, Morris, Collins, Blackmore, Griffiths, Smiles, Murray, Beck - they were up before ICAC - Singleton, who is still before the courts, Metherell, Greiner, and Moore. It does not read so much like a police line-up as a remand cell. Now we have the member for Blue Mountains and the member for Georges River. I will tell the Parliament what everyone around here knows. It is not a matter of what the Opposition thinks. No-one can find a single member of the Government who does not think that Barry Morris made the phone call, and it is pretty hard to find a single member of the Government -off the record - who does not think Terry Griffiths was molesting his staff, but Government members are here tonight crying crocodile tears for the honourable member for St Marys.
This motion was meant to be a diversion from the Government's troubles but all it has done is allow the Leader of the Opposition and others to highlight exactly what the Government's problems are. Tonight will go down in history as the greatest own goal since the Colombian World Cup soccer player Escobar scored against his own team - and we all know what a messy end he came to. This censure motion is a pathetic attempt to attack the Leader of the Opposition. The Opposition has nothing but contempt for the lack of ethics amongst members of the Government and the lack of competence in people who think they can mount an attack. There is a terrible sense of deja vu here. [Time expired
Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Glachan)
: Order! I draw the attention of honourable members to the presence in the gallery of His Excellency Mr Saburo Tanaka, Consul General for Japan.
Mr J. H. MURRAY
(Drummoyne) [8.44]: We all remember the infamous Tony Packard, the former member for the Hills. I am pleased that the honourable member for Eastwood and the honourable member for Cronulla are present tonight, because both honourable members opposite remember him quite well. There may be other members who are not as well acquainted with the devious actions of the former member for The Hills. Tonight I want to remind the House of Premier Fahey's role in protecting someone who can only be described as a scoundrel. On 25 February I asked the Premier whether there were outstanding State taxes to be paid by the Packard Motor Company Proprietary Limited - what I believed was a matter of public importance and an entirely justified question. The Premier's response to this most searching question was, "I am unaware of the answer to the question". The next day, 26 February, I asked the Premier:
The Premier will recall that yesterday I asked him a question concerning the actions of the Packard Motor Company, whether it had outstanding monies payable to the State, and if so the quantum. Has the Premier an answer, and will he provide it to the Parliament?
The Premier, with a full 24 hours to summon up the details from the Department of State Revenue, said, "The answer is the same as yesterday". In other words, the answer was: I am not interested, I do not know. These were serious allegations that were reported in the press at the time. The Premier had the audacity to come to the rostrum and say, in effect, "I don't give a damn". Being the terrier that I am I persisted, and on the third day, 27 February, I asked the Premier:
. . . whether he will now answer the questions I had asked during question time in the past two sitting days?
The Premier replied, "The answer to the second part remains the same" - an erudite answer. What this House got, in simple terms, was a coalition Premier saying he would not provide information to the House; he would not seek information; and, more importantly, he would not ask for information about non-payment of State taxes by a member of his own party. That is the key. He had the opportunity to provide information which he obviously knew was damaging - information of a criminal nature - to one of his backbenchers, but he refused to front up. The Premier was covering up. He failed to uphold the standards of propriety expected of a member of this House.
In this debate the House has heard the sorry saga of a tired old Government seeking to censure the Leader of the Opposition for inconsistently applying ethical standards to members of his party. What a joke! What an absolute farce! The Premier's role in the cover-up for the then member for The Hills cannot be defended. On three successive days he was asked to provide information about whether Tony Packard's motor company had fulfilled its legal obligations - and I stress legal obligations - to pay State taxes, including the payment of stamp duty, motor registration fees and payroll taxes to the State Treasury. The Premier continued right to the very end, right to the death, to protect the member for The Hills.
What actions of the former member for The Hills did the Premier seek to protect during that period? The Packard Motor Company misappropriated $37,000 from one customer who had traded in his car with that company and signed up for another loan. The customer then found that the dealership had failed to honour its agreement to pay out the original loan. An amount of $37,000 that should have gone to a consumer in The Hills district was misappropriated by a member of Parliament representing the government of the day. The Opposition moved a motion calling on the member for The Hills to explain his conduct both as proprietor of the Packard Motor Company and as a member of Parliament. At no time during that debate did the Premier give any indication that the unscrupulous behaviour of the former member for The Hills was anything but defensible. The Premier in this Chamber defended the former member for The Hills.
The Government put forward that standard of propriety, yet it has the audacity to move a motion seeking to censure the Leader of the Opposition for inconsistent application of ethical standards. The essence of this debate is whether the Leader of the Opposition or the Premier - an amendment was proposed to the motion - acted with propriety in relation to alleged actions by members of their respective parties. The Premier's actions in covering up the Packard fiasco was nothing but pathetic. The key to the debate is that the Premier failed to condemn the outrageous actions of the then member for The Hills. A most serious allegation was being put to this House about use of listening devices and avoidance of State taxes, sales tax and Commonwealth taxes - the gamut of malpractice in any business. A number of allegations against Tony Packard were made in this House, and on all such occasions the Premier came out and defended the scoundrel. Eventually Tony Packard pleaded guilty in court and was fined. He resigned from this place in disgrace. In the lead-up to that resignation the Premier came to the table in this House not wanting to answer questions. When the Opposition moved motions in this Chamber, the Premier came out and defended the actions of someone I believe was a scoundrel. The courts have sanctioned my thoughts on that matter.
The Premier has not hit the deck tonight in this House. The Opposition has not seen one Minister of the Crown in the Chamber. Instead, a few emissaries have been sent in to be the dirt diggers. They have been attempting to condemn the Leader of the Opposition, but it is evident from their speeches that they do not have their hearts in it. There has never
been a more barefaced example of double standards than that shown by the Premier in the Tony Packard saga cover-up. Members opposite might say that is merely Opposition rhetoric, but he pleaded guilty in court. The essence of the matter is that at one stage the Premier had the then Minister for Consumer Affairs, Peter Collins, obtain a report. A report was presented by the Minister for Consumer Affairs on the circumstances and impact on consumers of the failure of the Packard Motor Company. Under a report entitled "Unsatisfied Encumbrances" the department has 13 instances where existing loan arrangements for trade vehicles were not finalised because Tony Packard had failed to pay out encumbrances in accordance with the obligations of the purchasers. One was worth $37,000. They found 13 of them. In six cases the purchaser had entered into a further loan with AGC in relation to the purchased vehicle - one for $59,000, but in that case AGC accepted responsibility. The document contains claims for $37,000, $7,681, $27,807 and $10,000.
In that saga the Premier in this House defended a scoundrel because he did not have the guts to stand up and say, "I believe that the actions of one of my backbenchers needs some examination and some action on my part". It may be that the state of the numbers in the House and the former member for Davidson were causing some difficulty for the Government at that time, but that does not hide the fact that the Premier of the day did not do the right thing. If this House does not censure the Premier for his consistent failure to apply ethical standards to members of his Government as per the example I have given about the former member for The Hills, he must be condemned. There is not a person walking the streets of New South Wales who could honestly say that the Premier did the right thing in defending Tony Packard, and that what he did was acceptable. The Premier stood up in this House and looked after Tony Packard. The Premier said that what Tony Packard did was acceptable. No-one in New South Wales would accept that, yet today members have been asked to vote on a motion to condemn the Leader of the Opposition. The Premier has shown base motives which no-one would accept. I ask the House to throw out the motion and vote for the amendment.
(Smithfield) [9.00]: I have often wondered why the honourable member for Eastwood has never made it to the frontbench, and this motion shows me why. It is interesting that a person of little weight, as the honourable member obviously is, was the member called upon by the Premier to move this motion of extraordinary ineptitude. I do not think the honourable member for Eastwood has realised that it is a boomerang; a boomerang that after tonight will fly back in his face.
Right between the eyes.
Right between the eyes. I am astonished, perhaps mesmerised, by the fact that this Government of all governments, with the litany of characters that we have been talking about tonight, could bring a motion of this nature before the Parliament. Next thing we will have Alexander Downer moving a motion in Federal Parliament condemning Paul Keating for not having electoral appeal. Why does the Liberal Party not do that? This Government's hypocrisy knows no bounds. That members opposite are political has-beens, clinging to a deflating life raft which will expire on 25 March, is simply confirmed by this nonsensical motion.
The Liberal Party and the National Party almost reel in horror when the word "ethics" is mentioned. It is like a vampire with a cross being planted in front of his face. All one has to say to Government members is "ethics" and they reel back in shock saying, "Hold on, don't say that word". "Ethics" is a word that Government members cannot digest. I have heard a story that Bob Askin started this, and Government members still live up to it. Every time a member of the National Party or the Liberal Party puts in a nomination for preselection, they have to sign a pledge that upon being elected to Parliament they will get liquid paper and white-out every time the words "ethics" or "integrity" appear in their dictionaries. Visit the room of the honourable member for Barwon or any of the characters opposite and the word "ethics" will have been deleted because the Government cannot handle that word. Who dreamed up this motion? I cannot believe that honourable members opposite dreamed this up. It must have been John Fahey, the great strategist, or Chris Hartcher. The political acumen almost floors me; it is brilliant!
It is like the time I asked Macdonald the question.
Absolutely, I remember that. When you asked Macdonald the question on the Water Board, he threw you for six. How could a government of this stature move a motion like this, a government full of tax cheats, convicted criminals, fraudsters and a pervert.
And the National Party.
The National Party, and a pervert, the terror of the typing pool. How could a government, with a litany of these characters, who have been paraded through this Parliament since March 1988, dare come into this Parliament and insult the people of New South Wales by pretending that it has any character or integrity. You succeeded Tony Packard because he was a criminal. That is the only reason you are in this Parliament - because your predecessor was a crook. You can get up here when I am finished and tell the House about Tony Packard and how you are proud of the fact -
Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Glachan)
: Order! The honourable member will address his remarks through the Chair.
This Government has trotted out this stuff that is seven or eight years old. I am told that when it decided to have a shot at the honourable member for Campbelltown, it had to get the Gumption
and scrubbing brush out from under the sink and scrub off the thick dust. There is nothing in it. As honourable members opposite well know, the honourable member for Campbelltown is a person of the highest integrity.
You have not lost your sense of humour, Carl.
You know that. Well, if you think this is a joke - is that what you are doing? This is a joke, is it? Is this a flippant -
Order! I ask Government members to cease interjecting in this manner and I ask the member for Smithfield to continue to address his remarks through the Chair.
The honourable member for Cronulla has just indicated that this motion is flippant -
On a point of order: I interjected by accusing the member of having a sense of humour. I withdraw that.
Order! No point of order is involved.
The affront and insult to this Parliament launched by the Government is something that all honourable members should be insulted by, not only by the flippant disregard for the valuable time that we should be spending on the dispatch of business for the people of New South Wales, but because this is probably the greatest time waster ever. In March 1988 the first Premier of this Government issued a code of conduct statement relating to members' ethics. The document states at 1.2:
Ministers should avoid situations in which they have or might reasonably be thought to have a private interest which conflicts with their public duty.
The documents states further at 3.2:
(a) use his or her position for the private gain of the Minister or for the improper gain of any other person.
How does Treasurer Collins explain the fact that he continues to be a Minister when he has clearly breached both of those sections in doing what he did, that is, exerting pressure upon Dr Ryan to obtain a financial benefit. We have a Treasurer in this State whose integrity has been impugned. He took money from the public purse, in effect, by exerting pressure on a person via his position as a Minister. He went to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, flicked a little statement and then got off because there was no cross-examination. I have no doubt whatsoever that had that man - who embarrasses this State by continuing to be its Treasurer - been cross- examined by competent counsel, he would have been sacked. No decent Premier -
And sent to gaol.
And probably sent to gaol, but he continues to stay here. We all know that he is a crook. We all know he got his hand in the till.
On a point of order: if the honourable member wants to attack another member, he should do so by way of substantive motion. This goes right outside the leave of both the amendment and the motion.
On the point of order: that is a farce. The amendment says, "That the House censures the Premier for his consistent failure to apply ethical standards to members of his Government". While the Treasurer ought not be a member of the Government, he unfortunately continues to be a member of the Government and I am entitled to comment on his disgraceful behaviour while a Minister.
Further to the point of order: the honourable member for Smithfield is addressing situations that did not occur. He is saying, if this hypothesis happened, then this is what would occur. The honourable member should only address behaviour that has been occasioned by the member.
Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Glachan)
: Order! I uphold the point of order. The honourable member should confine himself to the facts.
On a point of order: I heard in my room that the honourable member for Smithfield has just made a scurrilous personal attack on me and has used words which I insist he withdraw. If he wishes to make any claim against me, he should have the guts - this snivelling member for Smithfield, this coward, would not have the guts - to repeat what he said outside this Chamber. He should withdraw those words unreservedly because he knows there is only one procedure by which he can make that sort of claim, and it is by way of substantive motion against me and he does not have the guts to do that.
Mr Acting-Speaker, you have already ruled on this point of order. He is out of time.
Order! I uphold the point of order and ask that the honourable member withdraw the remarks complained of.
I withdraw the remark that you are a crook.
On a further point of order: Mr Acting-Speaker, I also ask that the honourable member for Smithfield withdraw the other assertion he made that I have my hand in the till. I find that to be trifling with your ruling. He knows he is out of order. He knows he has overstepped the mark. He knows he is a coward. He knows he would not have the guts to repeat that outside. This man who masquerades as the member for Smithfield qualifies for the greatest coward's award in recent memory in this place. I ask that he withdraw his full imputation unreservedly - no qualification, unreservedly.
I am happy to withdraw the fact that you have your hand in the till.
On a point of order: the Minister has indicated that he found the words offensive. The honourable member for Smithfield has sought to make an assertion.
On the point of order: the honourable member for Smithfield has just said he withdraws the fact. He must withdraw, he is playing with your ruling. He is trifling with this House. If he continues to trifle with the House, he should be expelled from this Chamber. There is no such fact, and he knows it.
Order! I ask the honourable member for Smithfield to withdraw those remarks unreservedly.
I withdraw the remark that he has his hand in the till.
Unreservedly. Are you happy now?
Order! The honourable member will address his remarks through the Chair.
The code of conduct in that particular case was blatantly breached, of course. Mr Greiner set it up and used the so-called code of conduct to somehow justify his behaviour vis-a-vis the Metherell situation. Why are you moving? I am pleased you have come down.
Order! On a number of occasions I have asked the honourable member to address his remarks through the Chair. I warn him that if he continues to ignore my directions I will have him removed from the Chamber.
I would like to know the justification for this motion being brought before the House. I can only surmise that the Government somehow fears the honourable member for Campbelltown. He was basically left alone for seven years and upon his promotion to the frontbench of the parliamentary Labor Party we have had an entire week of activity from the Government side of this House relating to the honourable member for Campbelltown. I can only assume that Government members fear him. What the Government has done this week is to emphatically endorse the decision that the caucus unanimously made to promote him to the frontbench. The public will see this as such an endorsement.
On behalf of the honourable member for Campbelltown I express appreciation for the Government members assisting the process of presenting the Opposition's newest talented member of the front row so blatantly across the airwaves to the community. What is the charge? The charge that the Government has alleged against the honourable member for Campbelltown is that he took a trip to Atlanta, paid for by supporters of his political activities. Further, that he supports public housing in his electorate. Wow! Gee, I am blown away; that is terrible! I guess if that is unethical just about everyone in this House might as well accept the fact that we should no longer be here. I wonder how many members opposite would withstand a charge of being unethical if they went on a trip and supported public housing. I do not think many would support public housing; we all know what they think of public housing tenants.
Look at that charge: a trip and supporting public housing tenants. Compare that with Tony Packard, a convicted criminal. Tony Packard was kicked out of this House only because of the pressure placed on the Premier through a conviction. A litany of things, almost of biblical proportions, was alleged against the former member for The Hills. He would have stayed here had it not been for that conviction. He has support from the Premier and others. I think the goblin from Ku-ring-gai backed him all the way, right to the finish post. An article by Mark Coultan in the Sydney Morning Herald
of 26 July 1993 stated:
As much as Mr Fahey would like to paint the Independents as Mr Packard's executioners, they firmly had the high moral ground from the start. Mr Fahey was left to defend, in a half-hearted way, Mr Packard's position in Parliament, if not his actions.
Here is a man who would have us believe that somehow we have something to answer for when we have that situation: a Premier defending a convicted criminal. We have Mr Morris, the member for Blue Mountains, the Guy Fawkes of the Blue Mountains City Council - not a person in this House genuinely believes that he will not be convicted. Is there any suggestion -
On a point of order: the member is now attacking another member, purely on speculation. The member is entitled to address the House on facts relating to the amendment and the motion. He is not entitled to fabricate something into the future.
Order! I uphold the point of order. The honourable member should refer only to facts and not to hypotheses or to circumstances as he imagined them to be.
In this debate we have heard criticism of the ethical stance taken by the parliamentary Labor Party. We also had the airing of certain things in relation to the honourable member for St Marys. The Leader of the Opposition took a robust position in relation to the endorsement or disendorsement of the honourable member for St Marys. Nothing of that nature has occurred in respect of far more serious allegations against the honourable member for Blue Mountains. If we are to say that they are still in the realm of allegations, they are one hundredfold more serious than what is alleged against the honourable member for St Marys, yet the parliamentary Labor Party moved for disendorsement. Nothing of that nature has occurred in terms of the honourable member for Blue Mountains. There were allegations also in relation to the member for Georges River who could only be called the terror of the typing pool. They were serious allegations.
On a point of order: the honourable member is not entitled to use nicknames for other members. I make that point of order having been convinced of this by Opposition members who say they should be addressed only as members for their particular electorates.
On the point of order: I am prepared to accept that, provided no hypocrisy is intended.
Order! The debate is rapidly getting out of hand. There has been too much interjection and exchange across the table. A serious amendment has been moved to a serious motion, and the honourable member should make some effort to confine his remarks to the matters that are before the Chair.
We are attempting, and I believe we have -
Order! I suggest that the honourable member continue his contribution, as his time for speaking has almost expired.
We are attempting to set standards of ethical conduct which we will live by when we form government in March 1995. A Carr Labor Government will not be found wanting, as the Greiner-Fahey Government has been with a litany of characters that we have talked about this afternoon and this evening. I am appalled that such lack of political acumen could result in what are otherwise professional politicians allowing a motion to come before this House so that the Opposition can highlight certain behaviour. It gives the Opposition the opportunity to present countless examples of lack of good character, lack of good fame, lack of integrity, and lack of good reason why a whole host of their people should not be in government, and why they were removed from Government. The people of this State will realise that the party of this Parliament which supports the ethical conduct, the party concerned about integrity, good character and good fame, is the parliamentary Labor Party.
Members on the Government side throw feathers at the honourable member for Campbelltown. That is all they are, feathers wafting in the air. They carry no substance other than dust accumulated from their being kept in the cupboard for so long. Government members' suggestion that the honourable member for Campbelltown is a man lacking in character is shameful. Their attitude reflects poorly on them. I am confident that the Opposition amendment will be carried and that the Government's disgraceful motion will be defeated, as it deserves. [Time expired
Mr J. J. AQUILINA
(Riverstone) [9.20]: I oppose the censure motion moved by the honourable member for Eastwood and support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. The Government should hang its head in shame. It has shown its hypocrisy and contempt for the institution of Parliament by drawing up and moving this spurious motion against the Leader of the Opposition. It asserts inconsistent application of ethical standards by the Labor leader. One thing is certain: there is no inconsistency in the way that the Government applies ethical standards, for it has none. Go back through the seven long years of coalition history and see how those administrations have failed to apply even what they considered passed for ethical standards. I start with the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, and Minister for Mines.
On a point of order: the honourable member for Riverstone cast an aspersion on me. I ask him to inform the House of the basis of that aspersion. I remind him that if it relates to a case mentioned in the Sydney Morning Herald
he should ask the Sydney Morning Herald
what happened to it.
Mr J. J. AQUILINA:
For the past seven years New South Wales has endured one of the most shameful periods of administration in the history of this State. One member after another from the Government side has been paraded before all sorts of judicial institutions, whether the courts, the Independent Commission Against Corruption or this Parliament. In each instance it has been a case of shame, shame, shame. That long litany of disgraceful behaviour has involved not just one or two but almost a dozen members of the Government being forced out of this Parliament or being forced to withdraw or retract.
I repeat that there has been no inconsistency in the way that the Government has dealt with its so-called ethical standards. Whether it was Premier Greiner or Premier Fahey, on each occasion the allegation of impropriety has been met with efforts by the Premier to excuse the behaviour complained of. There has been a consistent failure to apply proper standards and ethics in respect of several members of Cabinet and of the Government collectively. Quite frankly, I do not know how honourable members sitting on the Government benches can raise their heads in a show of pride or honour when they know what their colleagues have done, what they have had to tell the people of New South Wales, and what Premier Greiner and Premier Fahey have put up with.
I am proud of my leader Bob Carr because there is no duplicity in his standards. There is no duplicity in the demands that he makes of his Labor colleagues in this Parliament. We appreciate the great honour and privilege bestowed on a member elected to represent in this Chamber the people of New South Wales. Attaching to that privilege is an absolute demand that members be as clean as a whistle in their public behaviour and in their financial affairs and personal honour. Those are standards that every leader has a right to demand and all taxpayers have the right to expect of their elected representatives.
What have taxpayers received in substitution of their expectations on these matters? I had a fair bit to do with my counterpart colleague in education, Terry Metherell. I note that many Liberal members on the Government side refrain from mentioning the name Terry Metherell particularly as the Government is spending tens of millions of dollars on undoing his education policies in an attempt to put the Metherell legacy behind us. Need I remind Government members that Terry Metherell was a crook; he was found to be a crook by a court of this land. He cheated the taxpayers of Australia. What was the response of Premier Greiner? Did he tell Metherell to resign his seat? Did Premier Greiner say, "I am going to withdraw your endorsement as a member of Parliament"? Did he say, "You are not a worthy
candidate for election in New South Wales"? No. He said, "Terry, thank you for resigning as Minister. I accept your resignation with regret. Perhaps, after the next elections when we are returned, I will consider putting you back in Cabinet".
Those are the sorts of ethical standards that Premier Greiner had for the people of this State. That is an absolute shame. But Terry Metherell was not on his own. The first member forced out of office, not by those on his side of the political spectrum but by the State Opposition, was the member for Coffs Harbour, Matt Singleton. The member for Hornsby, Neil Pickard, was another. The member for North Shore, Phil Smiles, also was a crook. He would not even pay his own solicitor's fees. These are the sorts of people who were members of the Liberal Party, and they even rose to executive positions within their governments.
What about the member for The Hills, Tony Packard? I never thought I would need to refer to this file again. It is a file on Tony Packard. It does not tell a very nice story. It is by no means a dirt file; it is a file of facts. It is a file that tells of the broken lives and the heartaches of the common people - former employees cheated by Tony Packard. These ordinary men and women fell victim to this bon vivant member of the Government. So many on that side of the political spectrum were very pleased and proud to associate with him. But Tony Packard cheated people of their hard earned money. Packard still owes them money for unpaid wages and overtime. They eventually brought him undone.
Tony Packard never hesitated to listen in on the private conversations of customers who came to his car yard. He and his salesmen used to leave these husbands and wives alone, ostensibly allowing them to discuss their financial affairs privately, but then went to a nearby room where they could listen to those private conversations captured by bugging devices. That was a shameful and disgraceful practice. He was rightfully found guilty by a court of this land and subsequently fined $1,000. But what was the response of Premier Fahey even after Tony Packard was found guilty? The Daily Telegraph Mirror
of 28 July 1993 said:
Premier John Fahey again defended the backbencher's actions, saying it was no worse than former MP Terry Metherell's convictions on tax offences in 1990.
Talk about ethical standards! Why should Tony Packard be pushed out? After all, Terry Metherell was found to be a crook and Premier Greiner never tried to get rid of him. Why should Premier Fahey want to get rid of Tony Packard? What sort of ethical standards are those? Do the people of New South Wales not have the right to expect better from their Premier? The article of 28 July 1993 stated further:
Terry Metherell is more of a criminal than Tony Packard. He received a penalty in court almost four times the amount that Tony received, Mr Fahey said.
Wowee! Because Terry Metherell is fined something like $4,000 he has four times as much right as Tony Packard to be thrown out of this Parliament. The judgment of the people of New South Wales was sane and sound. They were the ones, not the Premier, who forced Tony Packard out. The journalist went on to say, "The honourable thing would have been for Mr Fahey to condemn Mr Packard's action unless he could come up with a satisfactory defence". And again, "The question is not why Tony Packard resigned yesterday. It is why the Premier did not insist on his resignation six weeks ago". We are talking about standards and ethics here. We are talking about a Premier having the guts to demand the highest ethical decorum from his members. We are talking about a Government that is not going to take the people of New South Wales, the taxpayers, the little people of this State, for a ride or take advantage of them.
An article in the Daily Telegraph Mirror
of 28 July stated, "The strongest condemnation Mr Fahey has made of his former member is that he made a gross error of judgment". This is after he had been fined $1,000 for the despicable act of listening to the little people talking, supposedly in private, about their financial affairs so he could rip them off later when they went to purchase their cars. Many of the big people, for that matter, were just as disgusted with Tony Packard and the way he was tolerated by his Liberal Party colleagues and those who sought to defend him, a man who should have been thrown out a long time ago. Again I quote from the article: "This was more than a mistake. The magistrate had found in late 1990 Tony Packard was made aware of potential problems surrounding the two-way intercom system used to bug clients but Mr Packard determined that it remain".
What we are calling for here is some consistency in ethics. That is what my leader has shown and continues to show and, indeed, there is no inconsistency in the way in which he has dealt with the honourable member for St Marys, or the honourable member for Campbelltown for that matter. The honourable member for Campbelltown and I go back a long way. We have probably had the longest association of anyone in this Chamber. We were school kids together a long time before either of us went to work or even considered going into politics. He comes from a respectable family and is a man with whom I am proud to associate. I have not always agreed with his political point of view but I am pleased that in recent times we have managed to come to agreement. I have always respected his intelligence, his capacity and, above all, his integrity. Those are measured words and words of which I am very proud.
What has the Government produced today to condemn the honourable member for Campbelltown? What has it been able to rake through? I guarantee that the Government does not have files that could condemn him like the file I have that condemns Tony Packard or other files I have in my possession in relation to other Government members who have been told to run away from this Chamber with their tails between their legs. The Government went through some old documents - seven or eight years old - and could only come up with spurious reports of task
force Anode, a task force deliberately put together by the Premier in order to rake over old coals, to try to see whether the honourable member for Campbelltown could be entrapped in any way. What did the Government find? Absolutely nothing.
If we are going to talk about ethical standards, we should talk about the ethical standards of the Premier who is willing to misuse the Police Service of this State and taxpayers' money on a political witch-hunt, because that is what happened with task force Anode. The legitimate police services of this State were put to a political purpose, to carry out a witch-hunt, very much akin to the McCarthy days of the United States. What did they find? Absolutely nothing. Not being satisfied with that, the matter was referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. What did it find? Absolutely nothing. If we are going to use a standard which would condemn the honourable member for Campbelltown after the ICAC found he had no case to answer, why do not we adapt that standard to members on the Government benches? Why is that standard not adapted to the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, or to the former Deputy Premier of this State who was found by the ICAC to have performed in a manner conducive to corruption? Why do we not rake over old coals and say to John Fahey that he is being inconsistent with his application of standards because he does not do anything about these people?
No, the hypocrisy of this Government speaks volumes today. Two amateur Government members tried to embarrass the Opposition and to censure the Leader the Opposition. They failed abysmally. The Government failed in its attempt because the allegations raised lacked substance and truth. The honourable member for Eastwood is a talented lawyer, but as a politician he has a lot to learn. He needs more experience in this Chamber. I give the honourable member fair warning. When members of the Government want him to do its dirty work, to be the bomb thrower, though that may be the way to advance to the frontbench at some future time, tell them, member for Eastwood, to go jump. Tell them you will not do their dirty work for them and prove your character as a member of Parliament by standing on your own two feet and performing your job with integrity and honour. Your actions today have brought you no honour. It has brought you no praise in the eyes of your colleagues and it will not bring you any accolades from your constituents or the legal fraternity.
As for the other little bomb thrower, there is only one genuine bomb thrower in the Government and he has not spoken at all today in this debate. I advise the honourable member for Davidson to pull on his head, stay back a little and get lost for a while until he gains more experience. What he is attempting to do now will undermine his capacity, integrity and reputation as a member of Parliament and the general public will have every reason to ask: why are these people doing this? They have no conviction about what they are doing. It is all a political ruse which has been handled very badly indeed. I hope this exercise today is a sobering lesson for this Government. My plea is, get off the back of the honourable member for Campbelltown because you are really pushing the wrong horse. You are going the wrong way.
Then get him to answer the questions.
Mr J. J. AQUILINA:
He will answer your questions. He will answer whatever questions you want to throw at him provided they are legitimate questions, provided they are not bogus questions put together by a Police Service deliberately press-ganged into raking over old coals to carry out a massive political witch-hunt. Legitimate questions and legitimate debate is what we should be on about in this Parliament. To the absolute disgrace of this Government and the Leader of the House, it is now 9.40 p.m., and what have we dealt with that has been of benefit to the people of New South Wales? Zilch. The Government has the hide to want to debate later a procedural motion on the sitting times of this Parliament - how we are all going to sit at more congenial hours so that we can go home to our beds at night. I have certain points of view about that and I will not canvass them now, but in reality this Parliament is about the needs of the men and women in this State. It is about the needs of providing health services, public transport, schools and teachers. It is not about conducting witch-hunts. It is not about wasting the time of this Parliament on a motion which some people may construe as a political convenience for one side or the other.
(South Coast) [9.40]: In May 1993 the Committee on the Independent Commission Against Corruption made a recommendation to this Parliament after hearing evidence and giving it due consideration. It made a recommendation on a bipartisan basis that changes be made to the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act to embrace members of Parliament following the Greiner-Moore decision by the Supreme Court sitting as the Court of Appeal. It is now mid-October 1994 and nothing has been done about that matter. The recommendation was that a code of conduct be established for members of Parliament. The Independents have spent a considerable amount of time this week talking with the Government about the need for a code of conduct. For some months the honourable member for Manly has been looking at the question of ethics and ethical standards, whether there ought to be such a thing as an ethics committee of parliamentarians and non-parliamentarians, and whether we should try to improve the behaviour and standards of members of Parliament.
This motion was doomed to backfire. Before honourable members dive in, they should determine whether there are any piranhas in the water; they should have a 360 degree view of the environment. If they want to rake up old events in this House they should do a bit of research to determine what happened under the Askin, Wran, Lewis, Willis, Greiner and Fahey governments. When they start to
rake up old events it becomes evident that they cannot possibly win. Later in my speech I will talk about overcoming a problem of history if we are to advance. Recently I spoke to Sir Richard Kirby, a man in his eighties and a former chairman of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, about these things. He likes to sit down and talk. On the subject of the police he said, "If you are to deal with the problems in the police force, because of the long history of corruption you should draw a line and say that, from this day forward, that standard is not acceptable. Then you can go forward". That is an important and wise point, as one would expect from such a venerable judge and a person of his age and experience.
It is a joke for members of Parliament to look at the history of events in this Parliament. They go back for many years. This Fiftieth Parliament will go down in the history of New South Wales as the most accident prone; I have never known such a series of events involving members of Parliament. However, standards might have improved. Members of this Parliament have been caught out because of their actions. It may well be that members in previous parliaments were not caught out for actions that were equally criminal or dishonest, but I do not make a judgment on that. It is to the Government's credit that the creation of the Independent Commission Against Corruption has brought members of Parliament undone. This Government brought in a code of conduct for Ministers, which can be added to the ICAC benchmark. Matt Singleton went by the board because of that; he was sacked by Premier Greiner. Metherell stood down because of tax charges. When the Premier left the Parliament at that time he broke that code of conduct. He no longer gives a second thought to commercial in confidence matters. I am not saying that he has deliberately told people the secrets he learned in Cabinet, or that he has divulged commercial in confidence matters, but he carries into the private sector a lot of knowledge which ordinary mortals like me, as a member of Parliament, would not know about. I do not know how many boards Mr Greiner is on, and he is also a lobbyist.
Should we be looking at the code of conduct adopted in Canada, which provides that for 12 months or two years after leaving Parliament a Cabinet Minister cannot engage in activities that will allow him to use knowledge gained in confidence to his advantage? Unfortunately, Premier Fahey abandoned that code of conduct. He said it was meaningless. The code of conduct is a key element in this debate. I will not rake over old events, as that has been part of this political debate, but I will mention in passing the names of Packard, Pickard and Smiles, the honourable member for Blue Mountains and the honourable member for Georges River. We know that the history of the Australian Labor Party will not stand up to scrutiny. We know that Jackson would never have been charged with criminal offences if it were not for the fact that the Australian Federal Police picked up on what was happening from a phone bug. There was no way in the world that Wran was going to reveal what was happening. I know that Cabinet knew in large measure what was happening. I know that Cabinet knew what was happening in the Department of Planning.
Incidentally, I do not refer to the Leader of the Opposition when I am talking about the Minister in charge at that time. I know that certain members of the Australian Labor Party at that time would have used their good offices, because they were honest people, and said, "Enough is enough. Back off". I know that they would have tried to set some standards of behaviour for members of Parliament. We heard about Mochalski, Brereton and the Botany Council, and the bashing of Peter Baldwin. I could go on. If honourable members rake into history they will be wasting their time. This motion is doomed to failure. I do not care whether the motion is moved by Opposition members or Government members; there is such a wealth of material that they will be wasting their time. This debate interests me because it opens up to scrutiny internal party matters. I am grateful to the honourable member for Eastwood for doing that, because I think that is where the bodies are buried. That is where the decisions are made and that is where the deals are done. I, as an Independent, am happy to see all that happen and to see all the badness and rottenness come out. Honourable members can throw as many bombs as they like, but they should let the people know what is happening in the party room.
If they want to rake over old events they should refer to Community Polling. How many Liberal members of Parliament were involved in Metherell's office in that shonky arrangement? All I am saying is that this motion is a waste of time. If I were permitted under standing orders I would be tempted to vote for both the amendment and the motion. As I cannot do that I intend to vote against both. But I will say this about the Leader of the Opposition: whether his judgment is right or wrong, and whether he did what he did for party reasons associated with internal party machinations, I will never know. But at least for the first time someone in this House has said, "I do not think that behaviour meets our standards and something will be done about your preselection". I really cannot judge whether or not that was fair, so I make no judgment about the honourable member for St Marys.
Let me turn to the main point made by the honourable member for Eastwood, the mover of the motion. He examined the actions of the Leader of the Opposition, who took internal party action that should be flushed out because it affects a member's right to stand as a candidate and, therefore, affects the democratic party process. After his assessment of matters to do with cheques and allegations concerning a licensed club he made certain decisions. The honourable member for Eastwood referred to a police report concerning the honourable member for Campbelltown and his failure to answer questions. Those allegations, like the allegations against the honourable member for St Marys, are untested at this stage. I do not know how my colleagues the honourable member for Manly and the honourable member for Bligh and I are supposed to make up our minds on these untested allegations.
If we are to talk about censure it comes down to this: if the allegations are that the conduct does not meet the code of conduct for a member of Parliament, what measure do we have? There is no standard of conduct for members of Parliament, although a parliamentary committee recommended in May 1993 that one be established. The Government did nothing about it and the Opposition did nothing about it, so there are no standards against which my colleagues and I, or anyone else in this place, can be measured. There are a number of ways in which this matter can be handled, including reference by the police to the courts. In the case of the honourable member for St Marys, I only know what I am told in this House. The Director of Public Prosecutions found insufficient evidence to proceed with any charges.
The matter can be referred to the ICAC for determination, because there is no statute of limitations, as was mentioned in the case of the honourable member for St Marys. The allegation of disclosure and use of confidential information was mentioned in the case of the honourable member for Campbelltown. That is current when one considers the recent report of the ICAC on corrupt conduct in making improper use of confidential information. The honourable member for Eastwood is a barrister and would appreciate those points. It comes down to whether double standards are in operation, and whether they are double standards in a matter of party preferment and party preselection. I am delighted because I would love to see these standards examined by this Parliament.
Let us have a debate every time Parliament sits. The people of New South Wales would learn a lot about what happens inside party meetings and how their party candidates are selected for them. But is that a matter for censure? I still welcome this motion because it opens up a whole new area and invites the Parliament into the party room. Some good points were made about the member for Campbelltown. If the allegation is correct he should have spoken to the police. The ICAC is not statute barred. Refer it to the ICAC if you want to, then move a substantive motion on the member for Campbelltown, but I do not know whether it would get anywhere. On the evidence before me I doubt that it would. But do not move censure of the Leader of the Opposition on his judgment of matters and, in his exercise of that judgment, whether he applies ethical standards. I cannot see that that is a matter of true censure.
To get to the essence of true censure one must ask what did the member of Parliament do wrong and zero in on that person, whether it be the member for St Marys, the member for Campbelltown or any other member. That should have been the point of a censure motion. Parliament is represented by a cross-section of the community. That has always been the case and I hope it always will be. There are people in Parliament who are honest and dishonest to varying degrees; there are people who are hard workers and people who are lazy; people who are teetotallers and people who are alcoholics. A wag said to me in years past that he thought alcoholics are underrepresented; that if 5 per cent of the community are alcoholics we should have more alcoholic members in the House. We are a cross-section of the community and there will be variations in standards and in interpretations of the role of members of Parliament and their behaviour.
The Parliament needs a code of conduct or some way to measure standards and try to set standards, hopefully by example. If we are to go forward and learn something from this debate, we should look seriously at ethics and a code of conduct. Let us not go through the exercise that the Federal Government has just completed, which was a total waste of time. That was exposed recently in the media. I noticed some comments from my colleague Ted Mack, the Federal member for North Sydney. Federal parliamentarians went through about three inches of documents, took all the evidence and so on, and reduced those documents to about seven motherhood statements that did not mean a thing. In other words, Federal parliamentarians do not want to set a code of conduct. We have to make up our minds whether we are going to establish a code of conduct for this Parliament, how we are going to do it, and how we are going to treat ethics.
We should give serious thought to it, because the history of this Parliament is not a proud one. We have to make up our minds about our standards and whether we are going to set an example. I am no different from anyone else. I have my weaknesses like everyone else, I have to compromise like everyone else, I am a politician like everyone else in this Parliament, and I am partisan like everyone else. A Minister of a Liberal government is likely to be partisan towards big business. A Minister in a Labor government may be partisan towards a union. All representatives will be partisan towards their electorates. This question of partisanship as a standard is an important matter to consider. We all come to grips with it and it is worrying many members in the light of the ICAC's findings.
A number of discussions have been held, both on the record and off the record, between ourselves and with members of the ICAC committee, as to how vulnerable a member is when that member sincerely thinks he or she is doing the right thing. Therefore, members of Parliament have a role in setting their own code of conduct. They understand the standards that should apply because they understand the complexities of the job. However, it should not be only their role. Members of Parliament are representatives and members of the wider community. There is a real role for people who are not members of Parliament to sit on a committee of this House, to be involved in assisting members of Parliament to set a code of conduct.
The bottom line is if we set a code of conduct and that code of conduct is used by the ICAC to put members under the aegis of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act so that findings can be made against members of Parliament and Ministers under section 9 - and they cannot at the
moment. If members of Parliament set their own standards they will be a laughing-stock. We would be setting our own standards but imposing another set of standards on public servants. Those people can be judged by those standards as to whether they will lose their jobs and, under section 9 of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act, as to whether they may be found, because it is a sackable offence, to be guilty of corrupt conduct.
I do not think the general public would accept that. The feeling amongst members with whom I have discussed this matter is that people outside cannot assist in setting a code of conduct with any real say, and they would not accept that. The fact is there is a real world out there. John Dowd said to me that John Maddison, former Attorney General, gave him some wise advice, and I took that advice myself: never forget, wherever you are, whatever you say, whatever you do, that you are a member of Parliament. For all the abuse that we suffer, for all the jokes that are made about us, a member of Parliament has a special place in the community. If you forget that, you do so at your peril. If you do not set reasonable standards for yourself and abide by them, and if you are not subject to the law and to the ICAC in exactly the same way as the people you choose to represent, and if you do not set the example, you are vulnerable. That is the clear message of this debate.
(Newcastle) [9.58]: What a dismal week for the Liberal Party! Yesterday we had that genius, the Minister for the Environment, with his urgency motion on mining in national parks. The National Party, I am sure, was frothing at the mouth at his ineptitude and the fact that without any problems whatsoever the Opposition was able to show that the Liberal Party had no record in that area and in fact was a laughing-stock. In the party room this morning, when the Government members were considering what to do today, I am sure that the honourable member for Eastwood, in his new position as parliamentary secretary, came up with the brilliant idea of testing the integrity and ethics of the Labor Party. I can imagine the scene in the National Party room. The Nationals would have been agog at that because when the words "ethics" and "probity" were used they would have thought back to all the difficulties they faced as a result of the north coast inquiry into behaviour conducive to corruption.
On a point of order: if the honourable member for Newcastle wants to quote selectively the findings of the north coast inquiry, he should also state what was defined under corruption. The inquiry found - I remember it clearly - that there is no, and there never was any, evidence of corruption. The honourable member should quote the whole report.
Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Hazzard):
Order! There is no point of order.
It was behaviour conducive to corruption. National Party members, given their difficulty with ethics, felt that entering this debate would not be attractive to them. They did not want to get dragged into a debate on probity, integrity, honesty and forthrightness. What ethics and support for ethics has the Government demonstrated in the seven long years it has been the protector of probity and honesty in this State? The famous job-for-a-vote case went to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. The decision of the ICAC was contested, which led to the finding by Mr Temby that Metherell and Greiner had acted, in terms of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act, in a manner that he thought was corrupt being overturned. As the honourable member for South Coast has said, the appeal made clear that under the present terms of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act a Minister of the Crown could not be found to be corrupt. The ICAC committee, of which I am a member - the honourable member for Eastwood was a member of it at that time - deliberated at length and produced a comprehensive report on changes required to the Act.
That report, delivered to the Parliament in May 1993, found an urgent need for changes to be made to the Act to make Ministers of the Crown subject to the provisions of the Act. The Government, so full of concern about integrity and acting ethically, made no attempt in that 18-month period to make the changes that would have brought its Ministers within the scope of the Act. Why did the Government not act properly? It made sure that humble Opposition backbenchers, people in the public sector and members of the public are all subject to the provisions of the Act but not Ministers of the Crown, as found in the decision of the Supreme Court. That double standard has been maintained by the Government. And it has the hide to talk about ethics! A code of ethics or conduct of parliamentarians has been suggested. As the honourable member for South Coast said, we deliberated on a code of ethics not in 1994, not in 1993, but in 1992. The ICAC committee received a series of learned submissions on the need for development of a code of conduct for parliamentarians. It was said that code of conduct should be built from the grass roots up, that parliamentarians should participate in the process. But it took until April 1994 for this document to be tabled.
No action was taken by this so-called ethics-driven Government until it was forced to do so by the Independents because of its passion to have Mr Justice Barry O'Keefe inducted as ICAC commissioner, and not until the Government did something about amending section 9 of the Act. The result is these three absolutely worthless pieces of paper. The Government attempted to dredge up a frothy code of conduct - not something discussed by parliamentary colleagues or worked out by outside experts but some trashy piece of Government legislation introduced purely to facilitate the leap into the commissioner's position by the present nominee. The Hon. S. B. Mutch, who I am delighted is present in the gallery - a person of independent spirit within the Liberal Party - at the time presented a very strong dissenting report to the discussion paper on a code of ethics.
I turn to the Government's handling of the whole issue of the appointment of an ICAC commissioner and its real purpose in trying to destroy the ICAC as an effective body. New South Wales had the highest standards of probity and ethics in its public sector. The Government knew five years ago that Commissioner Temby was to retire on 13 March this year. It knew that a procedure must be set in place under the Act to advertise the position of commissioner, to interview the many people who want that well paid but extremely onerous position, and to provide to the ICAC committee, which has veto power, the name of a nominee. The Government did not set out in any structured way to make sure that would happen.
The Government did not advertise the position until January 1994, which gave far too narrow a time period in which to make proper decisions. The ICAC committee was not given, through departmental advice, any idea of what it ought to do in its deliberations. The committee was left floundering trying to decide what procedures ought to be invoked. That placed Commissioner Temby in the position of knowing that he would stand down on 13 March without a commissioner being in his place to ensure the continuity and effectiveness of the ICAC. The Government has criticised the Leader of the Opposition for acting decisively and effectively with regard to the probity of the Opposition frontbench. In effect, it deliberately set out to neuter the ICAC.
I have been most concerned about that and, when Acting Commissioner Mant was in charge of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the Labor members of the ICAC committee requested that the committee meet with him to discuss his term of office. It was a most interesting discussion. The obligation of the committee is to ensure that the ICAC is carrying out its functions in a fit and proper manner, not to overview its operations but to review its operations at arms-length. Commissioner Mant felt quite strongly that he had been placed in a difficult position. He felt also that morale at the ICAC had been affected because of the way the Government acted to replace the commissioner.
This so-called Government of probity and ethics - a government that is supposed to follow the rules - knew that it should have decided upon a nominee and brought the name of that nominee to the attention of the committee, to give the committee the opportunity to discharge its responsibility. But did it do that? No it did not. The Premier, in a pre-emptive statement, named Mr Justice O'Keefe as the new ICAC commissioner and then gave the committee the unenviable task of agreeing to the appointment. That process not only embarrassed the nominee but flouted the responsibility of the committee under the provisions of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act. And this Government of high ethics and probity has the hide to cast aspersions upon the Leader of the Opposition for acting in a decisive and ethical manner!
I shall refer again to the wonderful background of this Government and the decisive way in which Premiers Fahey and Greiner have acted. I remind honourable members of the famous job-for-a-vote case, the Metherell-Greiner case. I know the pain that particular matter caused the honourable member for Wakehurst, who was caught in a difficult situation. Most of the members involved in that case have left the Parliament, either by their own volition or because they have been forced to leave as a result of legal process.
I reiterate for the benefit of honourable members opposite the so-called high ethical standards displayed by Government members. The former member for The Hills, that rat with the gold tooth, had developed a wonderful selling technique for his cars, making sure, of course, that customers had every opportunity to agonise over whether they could afford to purchase. Honourable members are all aware of the highly unethical and clandestine method he adopted to clinch deals with his customers. He bugged them! For many people the purchase of the family car - along with the purchase of a home - is one of the most important financial decisions they will make in their lives. The former member for The Hills, that ethical member, probably did not regard his actions as unethical. The honourable member for Gladesville nods his approval. Obviously such a practice is regarded by him as good, sharp, business practice when clinching deals. Such a method should not be countenanced, and of course it was not countenanced by the courts.
I refer also to another highly ethical person, the former Agent-General in London. Regardless of the outcome of the matter, it was evident that he was living high on the hog in London after a successful parliamentary career. The Government has a hide to cast aspersions on the Leader of the Opposition, who has acted decisively and ethically in regard to matters of major concern to him. The former member for North Sydney, who was a nice chap, also had some difficulties. He is no longer a member of Parliament. Government members are acting more like members in opposition. They have adopted the "shift this way, shift that way, let us throw a few bombs and hope to have an effect" type approach one expects from members in opposition.
A number of other Government members are sweating in their shoes at the moment. The member for Blue Mountains is waiting judgment day in court in April next year. The member for Georges River is the subject of a serious inquiry into his behaviour as a Minister of the Crown. The honourable member for Eastwood, the instrument of the Government, has foolishly tried to criticise the Leader of the Opposition. But the Leader of the Opposition has effectively turned that criticism back on the Government. [Time expired
(Auburn) [10.18]: This motion seeks to censure the Leader of the Opposition not because of his conduct but because of his judgment. It is a sad day when parliamentarians can be censured
for their judgment rather than their conduct. A similar motion was moved towards the end of last year when the Government sought to censure me because of a political thought - not because of my conduct or even my judgment.
The Leader of the Opposition has turned the censure motion back on the Premier, but because of his conduct not his judgment. The censure of a member of Parliament is an extremely serious matter. I assure the honourable member for Eastwood, who moved this censure motion, that his party colleagues are running around tonight trying to find out who was the architect of this brilliant idea. All he has succeeded in doing is turning the tide back on the Government. The honourable member for South Coast talked about the real world. We must never forget that we are members of Parliament; we are the chosen, we are the first of 99 to be elected by the people. It is our responsibility to hold our special place in the community.
The community expect us to maintain high standards and to reflect those high standards in the community. The community does not expect us to be absolutely perfect or absolutely moral, but it does expect a high standard of behaviour. No-one is above the law. The Government introduced the code of conduct for Ministers of the Crown - as opposed to a statement which is not an effective legal document - in an attempt to measure the honesty and integrity of Ministers. What former Premier Greiner said in March 1988 is significant given what has happened to the Government over the years. Almost two-thirds of the Ministers of March 1988 have either been replaced or have left the Parliament. The circumstances surrounding the departure of some of them were quite despicable. Some left because of political foolishness and ineptness. The very first paragraph of the code of conduct, of which the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries would be aware, states:
It is essential for the maintenance of public confidence in the integrity of the Executive Government of the State that Ministers of the Crown exhibit, and be seen to exhibit, -
I emphasise those words "be seen to exhibit" -
the highest standards of probity in the exercise of their offices, and that they pursue, and be seen to pursue, the best interests of the people of New South Wales to the exclusion of any other interest.
The very first Minister to fall from grace was the former member for Coffs Harbour. He fell from grace because of his association with development on the north coast. He has since been charged with two serious sexual offences, which I will not canvass. He was the member who drove the former member for Wallsend, Ken Booth, to his death with his continual harassment and allegations. Shame! We all know in our hearts, minds and souls that the former member for Wallsend, now deceased, was not a crook - unlike the former member for Coffs Harbour.
If honourable members want to throw mud, throw stones in glass houses, then they should practise what they preach. But they do not. Truth is honesty, but honesty is something that Government members know nothing about. The purpose of members of Parliament is to represent the people not to destroy individuals. The probity, honesty and public confidence of the former member for Coffs Harbour are being assessed. There is a climate conducive to corruption: those famous words, a climate conducive to corruption. Earlier the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries took a point of order on the honourable member for Newcastle and asked the honourable member not to quote selectively from the ICAC report into development on the north coast. I remind the House that those very words were used in reference to the member for Clarence, the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries. And what were those words? They were: a climate conducive to corruption.
Give us the full details.
I would do that if I had another two hours available to me. I would like to read to the House the whole report about the Minister. But I read the Government's standard:
It is essential for the maintenance of public confidence in the integrity of the Executive Government of the State that Ministers of the Crown exhibit, and be seen to exhibit, the highest standards of probity in the exercise of their offices, and that they pursue, and be seen to pursue, the best interests of the people of New South Wales to the exclusion of any other interest.
How does that paragraph in the ministerial code of conduct equate to a climate conducive to corruption? The second paragraph reads:
It is essential for the proper working of Executive Government that Ministers of the Crown should enjoy and retain the trust and confidence of their ministerial colleagues both in their official dealings and in the manner in which they discharge their official responsibilities.
I emphasise the words "the trust and confidence". What were the words again: a climate conducive to corruption. The code of conduct continues in bold letters:
1. MINISTERS WILL PERFORM THEIR DUTIES IMPARTIALLY, DISINTERESTEDLY AND IN THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE PEOPLE OF NEW SOUTH WALES.
What were the words again: a climate conducive to corruption. The code continues:
2. MINISTERS WILL BE FRANK AND HONEST IN OFFICIAL DEALINGS WITH THEIR COLLEAGUES AND WILL MAINTAIN THE CONFIDENTIALITY OF INFORMATION COMMITTED TO THEIR SECRECY.
What were the words again: a climate conducive to corruption. The role of the Independent Commission Against Corruption is to deal with the issue of corrupt conduct not the morality of Ministers. Replacing the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries at the table is the architect of this motion, the man who thought it up, the not so brilliant Minister for the Environment. It was his idea and his colleagues are after him. Tonight in the bar they were discussing his future. The motion was ill-conceived - I was going to say by
a clown, but I will not - by the Minister for the Environment. The amendment has turned the spotlight back on the Government because the Minister for the Environment was foolish enough to conceive this silly idea.
A similar silly censure motion was moved against me last November because of a political thought - not because I did anything wrong but because I dared to have a thought that no-one should go to gaol without a trial. I remember the debate at that time about high standards of probity, et cetera. Purity is life but people are people. The people of New South Wales do not want a strict code of conduct but they do want their Ministers to have a high standard of probity and to act accordingly. The honourable member for South Coast is demanding a code of conduct. The Government's inaction over the Smiles, Packard, Pickard, Greiner, Moore, Metherell, Blackmore and Yabsley allegations is of concern. The standard of conduct of parliamentarians is measured by the Parliament, by the electors, by our parties and by the media. The code refers to "the highest standards of probity in the exercise of their offices".
The honourable member for Gosford and the honourable member for Eastwood trod the road but not the water before they brought this motion before the House. This motion is nothing more than a witch-hunt to get the honourable member for Campbelltown, who has just been elevated to the frontbench. The motion was designed to try the Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for St Marys in this Parliament, turning this institution into a court of law. It will become a terrible practice if we set out as in a court of law to try members in this place by way of censure motion. I return to the code of conduct to read another paragraph which should be taken on board by the Minister for the Environment and other Ministers:
Ministers should avoid situations in which they have or might reasonably be thought to have a private interest which conflicts with their public duty.
I remind honourable members of the censure motion moved against me because I took a brief as a barrister. It did not matter one iota that members of the Liberal Party had given me permission to act in that capacity. No, that did not matter to them. I had spoken to every person I could think of to get permission to do that, and everyone I spoke to gave me permission. The taking of that brief did not conflict with my public duty; it enhanced and added to it. The reality is that the motion is a matter of grave concern. This lengthy document on the code of conduct goes to the very heart of the matter, and says:
A Minister shall not use his or her position for the private gain of the Minister or for the improper gain of any other person.
We have seen what happened in respect of that former member for Hornsby and Agent-General in London. We have seen what happened to others who ran foul of the law because of their dealings. Sometimes standards that you set reflect back on you. The Independent Commission Against Corruption has had a problem with the appointment of its new commissioner. The problem again is the code of conduct that applies to Ministers of the Crown. The Premier constantly makes allegations that the Labor Party is undermining the appointment of the new ICAC commissioner.
The reality is as pointed out by the honourable member for Newcastle. The Government had five years to prepare for the appointment of an ICAC commissioner. For some reason it decided not to address that problem until it got to the end of the road last year. Then the Government got its head hunters to look around and ask prospective applicants. We do not know who those people are. At the end of the day Mr Barry O'Keefe became the candidate. Then there were questions about his appointment and government promises made to him, and his proposed appointment was examined by a parliamentary committee.
Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Hazzard):
Order! The level of audible conversation is excessive. Members should pay the honourable member for Auburn the courtesy of remaining silent while he makes his contribution.
Just as we were about to accept Barry O'Keefe's appointment we find out that he decided to write a letter in support of the Liberal candidate in the Parramatta by-election saying, "Good news for Parramatta". That brings us back to discussing his probity as ICAC commissioner. After an agonising meeting that went from 6.15 in the evening until 1.30 the next morning and took a lot of evidence from Barry O'Keefe, we are left to ponder whether an omission to reveal facts is worse than telling a deliberate lie. It has now been discovered that Mr Justice Barry O'Keefe wrote a letter that was distributed through the electorate of Willoughby endorsing the Treasurer as the Liberal candidate in the last election. Barry O'Keefe never told us that.
So we now have questions about the probity of the Crown and the senior executive service. What are we to do about this problem? Are we to create a higher standard, or should we just say that these things happen in politics and should be ignored, that we should go about our business and appoint people to these positions in public office? Or should we adhere to "the highest standards of probity in the exercise of their offices, and that they pursue, and be seen to pursue, the best interests of the people of New South Wales to the exclusion of any other interest"? Those who would like to know the meaning of "any other interest" should read the pecuniary interest legislation. Company directorships and other such interests are covered by that definition.
It is difficult to understand the logic of moving against the Leader of the Opposition a censure motion relating to his judgment rather than his conduct. The amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition goes right to the heart of the conduct of the Premier. Consequently, I ask the House to support the amendment and censure the Premier for his failure to ensure that he and his Ministers maintain "the highest standards of probity in the exercise of their offices, and that they pursue, and be seen to pursue, the best interests of the people of New South Wales to the
exclusion of any other interest". I call upon the House to take note of the arguments put in this debate and support the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
(Eastwood) [10.36], in reply: I listened to the many members of the Opposition who contributed to this debate but not one of them addressed the key point, which is that honourable member for Campbelltown still needs to answer 133 questions being asked by police. That fact must be compared with the circumstances in which the Leader of the Opposition put the onus of proof on the honourable member for St Marys. If the Leader of the Opposition did not know about the 133 unanswered questions before today, he certainly knows about them now. He treated the refusal of the honourable member for Campbelltown to cooperate with the police as a joke.
It is no joke when anyone refuses to cooperate with police. It is far less of a joke when that person is a member of Parliament. It is an extremely serious matter, deserving of the censure of the House, when the Leader of the Opposition actually promotes to a key shadow ministerial portfolio a member who is refusing to answer questions being put by police. That is what the motion is all about. It is about censuring the Leader of the Opposition for his active support and promotion of a member who is refusing to cooperate with police investigating a matter and refusing to answer 133 questions.
A lot of nonsense went on when members opposite sought to make comparisons between the conduct of certain other members and Ministers. Some of that nonsense was in reference to the Treasurer. The point is that the ICAC inquiry that investigated matters raised against the Treasurer concluded that there was ample evidence to deal with that matter without hearings. The point about the matter the subject of the motion before this House is that police had to stop their inquiry precisely because the honourable member for Campbelltown refused to answer questions. The inquiry was getting nowhere. It stalled. It is stillborn because the honourable member refuses to answer those questions.
I do not know whether the honourable member for Campbelltown has anything to hide, but I start to draw conclusions when he refuses to cooperate with police inquiries. If he does not have a problem, he should answer the questions and help police in their conduct of the investigation. If he did, that would be the end of the story. That has not happened. So we draw the second conclusion that the person is not only refusing to answer but is refusing to answer because he has something to hide in the context of serious criminal matters. That is the person promoted to the frontbench of the Labor Opposition.
Much has been said about the Premier. What I want to say is that the Premier has always upheld the highest standards in respect of his party, and he would expect the Leader of the Opposition to do likewise. Where there have been problems, they have been dealt with directly and honestly. They have been dealt with consistently, respecting the rights of people before the law.
That is the position so far as this Government and the Premier are concerned. As the honourable member for South Coast said, much credit is due to the Government for setting up the Independent Commission Against Corruption and continuing with it. Heaven forbid if the Opposition ever gained office. The ICAC would be dead in about half an hour, because of the sort of things that the honourable member for Campbelltown has done or has failed to do. Following up police questions is precisely the sort of thing that, it would appear through the Leader of the Opposition's support of this man, will become regular again on the Opposition frontbench if it ever gains office. It is little wonder that there ought to be concern about the future of the ICAC. The message being sent out is that people can do what the honourable member for Campbelltown has done - they can thumb their noses at the police, and they will get preferment.
But heaven help members in the position of the honourable member for St Marys - are a few cheques payable to the Australian Labor Party floating around, or a few factional problems, problems with female quotas and all that sort of thing - because the onus of proof will be on them and they will end up on the political gallows. The heart of the issue is the 133 unanswered questions. I venture to suggest that there is not one other politician, let alone frontbencher, anywhere in the country who has 133 unanswered questions to the police as has the honourable member for Campbelltown. That is at the heart of the problem. That is the matter that the Leader of the Opposition must act upon. If he has failed to act upon it to date, he must now act upon it in full knowledge of it or accept that he is condoning this behaviour for the whole of the front bench. That is why this censure motion should be carried against the Leader of the Opposition.
Question - That the amendment be agreed to - put.
The House divided.
Mr Amery Mr Mills
Mr Anderson Mr Moss
Mr J. J. Aquilina Mr J. H. Murray
Mr Bowman Mr Nagle
Mr Clough Mr Neilly
Mr Crittenden Ms Nori
Mr Face Mr E. T. Page
Mr Gibson Mr Price
Ms Harrison Dr Refshauge
Mr Harrison Mr Rogan
Mr Hunter Mr Scully
Mr Iemma Mr Shedden
Mr Knight Mr Sullivan
Mr Knowles Mr Thompson
Mr Langton Mr Whelan
Mrs Lo Po' Mr Yeadon
Mr McManus Tellers
Mr Markham Mr Beckroge
Mr Martin Mr Davoren
Mr Beck Mr W. T. J. Murray
Mr Blackmore Mr O'Doherty
Mr Causley Mr D. L. Page
Mr Chappell Mr Peacocke
Mrs Chikarovski Mr Petch
Mrs Cohen Mr Photios
Mr Collins Mr Richardson
Mr Cruickshank Mr Rixon
Mr Debnam Mr Schipp
Mr Downy Mr Schultz
Mr Fraser Mrs Skinner
Mr Glachan Mr Small
Mr Hartcher Mr Smith
Mr Hatton Mr Souris
Mr Hazzard Mr Tink
Mr Humpherson Mr Turner
Dr Kernohan Mr West
Mr Kinross Mr Windsor
Mr Longley Mr Zammit
Dr Macdonald Tellers
Mr Merton Mr Jeffery
Ms Moore Mr Kerr
Ms Allan Mr Armstrong
Mr A. S. Aquilina Mr Baird
Mr Carr Mr Cochran
Mr Doyle Mr Fahey
Mr Gaudry Mr Griffiths
Mrs Grusovin Ms Machin
Mr Irwin Mr Morris
Mr Rumble Mr Phillips
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put.
The House divided.
Mr Beck Mr O'Doherty
Mr Blackmore Mr D. L. Page
Mr Causley Mr Peacocke
Mr Chappell Mr Petch
Mrs Chikarovski Mr Photios
Mrs Cohen Mr Richardson
Mr Collins Mr Rixon
Mr Cruickshank Mr Schipp
Mr Debnam Mr Schultz
Mr Downy Mrs Skinner
Mr Fraser Mr Small
Mr Glachan Mr Smith
Mr Hartcher Mr Souris
Mr Hazzard Mr Tink
Mr Humpherson Mr Turner
Dr Kernohan Mr West
Mr Kinross Mr Zammit
Mr Longley Tellers
Mr Merton Mr Jeffery
Mr W. T. J. Murray Mr Kerr
Mr Amery Mr Mills
Mr Anderson Ms Moore
Mr J. J. Aquilina Mr Moss
Mr Bowman Mr J. H. Murray
Mr Clough Mr Nagle
Mr Crittenden Mr Neilly
Mr Face Ms Nori
Mr Gibson Mr E. T. Page
Ms Harrison Mr Price
Mr Harrison Dr Refshauge
Mr Hatton Mr Rogan
Mr Hunter Mr Scully
Mr Iemma Mr Shedden
Mr Knight Mr Sullivan
Mr Knowles Mr Thompson
Mr Langton Mr Whelan
Mrs Lo Po' Mr Windsor
Mr McBride Mr Yeadon
Mr McManus Tellers
Mr Markham Mr Beckroge
Mr Martin Mr Davoren
Mr Armstrong Ms Allan
Mr Baird Mr A. S. Aquilina
Mr Cochran Mr Carr
Mr Fahey Mr Doyle
Mr Griffiths Mr Gaudry
Ms Machin Mrs Grusovin
Mr Morris Mr Irwin
Mr Phillips Mr Rumble
Question so resolved in the negative.
Order! I call the honourable member for Wollongong to order. I ask all honourable members to remain silent while the business of the House is continuing. Those who wish to leave the Chamber should do so quickly and quietly.