ASSENT TO BILLS
Royal assent to the following bills reported:
Firearms Legislation (Amendment) Bill
Government Insurance Office (Privatisation) Amendment Bill
CASINO CONTROL BILL
GOVERNMENT PRICING TRIBUNAL BILL
LIBRARY (AMENDMENT) BILL
POLICE SERVICE (EMPLOYER) AMENDMENT BILL
PILOTAGE (AMENDMENT) BILL
PUBLIC FINANCE AND AUDIT (AMENDMENT) BILL
ANNUAL REPORTS LEGISLATION (AMENDMENT) BILL
Formal stages and first readings agreed to.
MOONEE BEACH NATURE RESERVE BILL
Bill received and read a first time.
Suspension of certain standing orders agreed to.
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION BILL
Bill received and read a first time.
"MANAGING THE PARLIAMENT"
The President tabled his response to the Moore-Wilkins report entitled "Managing the Parliament".
Ordered to be printed.
Petition praying that the Forestry Commission of New South Wales be reformed in accordance with the recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee and that the House urge the Government to act immediately for the good of our environmental heritage and the health of the plantation timber industry, received from the Hon. R. S. L. Jones.
Petition praying that because of community support for the continued availability of abortions and a woman's right to choose abortion and the continued availability of counselling services for abortion clinics, the House not support any restriction of existing abortion services, received from the Hon. Ann Symonds.
Petition praying that the House oppose Government proposals to legalise brothels and that urgent action be taken to clean up vice, disease and exploitation, received from the Hon. S. B. Mutch.
Petition praying that the House legislate to ban the annual duck hunting season to protect native waterfowl and New South Wales wetlands, received from the Hon. R. S. L. Jones.
Petition praying that because wildlife is threatened by predatory feral cats, and because unrestricted breeding of cats results in their destruction, starvation, injury and disease, there should be compulsory desexing of all domestic cats other than those with registered breeders, received from the Hon. R. S. L. Jones.
Petition praying that the Premier fulfil his promise to ban the sending of stray dogs to laboratories within New South Wales, received from the Hon. R. S. L. Jones.
STANDING COMMITTEE ON STATE DEVELOPMENT
The Hon. R. J. WEBSTER (Minister for Planning and Minister for Energy) [2.47]: In accordance with the resolution of the House of 2nd July, 1991, I desire to give the Government's response to the recommendations in report No. 4 of the Standing
Committee on State Development entitled "Coastal Planning and Management in New South Wales: A Framework for the Future, Volume 1", which was tabled on 26th September, 1991. I seek leave to have the response incorporated in Hansard.
Leave granted. [See Addendum.]
Government's response to report by the Standing Committee on State Development "Coastal Planning and Management in N.S.W: A Framework for the Future".
The coastal region of N.S.W. is one of the State's most important natural assets and this Government is committed to conserving and protecting its intrinsic qualities.
The goals articulated by the standing committee in its report, "Coastal Planning and Management in N.S.W; A Framework for the Future", are firmly supported by the Government. That is:
(i) to increase certainty and reduce conflict;
(ii) to increase proactive planning; and
(iii) to ensure ecologically sustainable coastal development.
However, they are not unique to coastal issues and the planning system generally aspires to these principles as reflected in the current discussion paper - "Modernising the Planning System".
While modifications to the present system may be required it is considered that the attainment of these goals is not dependent on creating new institutions and mechanisms. Additional layers in the process would only ultimately lead to over regulation at the expense of effective management.
As Minister for Planning I have been particularly interested in the standing committee's recommendations with respect to alternative dispute resolution techniques; ecologically sustainable development; community participation and the need to achieve greater certainty in the process.
The Government is committed to improving/refining the existing planning system which has a proven track record. The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 is recognised as a most progressive piece of legislation and while the coastal region does require specialist planning and management this should be and is being done within the existing legislative framework and planning system.
This Government is also committed to effective and efficient management and the creation of new processes for coastal planning is not considered practicable. Indeed, it would create further confusion and uncertainty for the community to institute a separate and different planning process - this would not be consistent with good management.
The main objective of the planning system review is to ensure the system meets the needs of the 1990's - the system should change with changing requirements and should look to the future. This includes planning for the coastal area.
The main objectives of the planning system review as outlined in the discussion paper are:
* achieve a more cooperative, partnership-based approach to the system between its participants;
* clarify the roles of each level of government;
* reduce disputes by using a greater range of resolution methods;
* achieve greater certainty for both government and business decision-making;
* create more opportunities for worthwhile development together with better environmental protection; and
* increase efficiency without compromising quality of decision-making.
These are consistent with the standing committee's goals. There is a call for more creative thinking and closer partnerships between participants in the system. Shortages of resources are faced and more must be done with less. Each level of government is being drawn into a more partnership-based system with other levels. Scarce resources mean duplication of services cannot be afforded. The Government recognises the imperative for effective and efficient coordination between different government agencies whose programs have an impact on coastal management and planning.
However the Government does not consider that the proposed State coordination agency would provide the most effective or efficient outcomes for coastal management and planning on the following grounds:
First, it is not apparent that an additional layer of government machinery will lead to substantive long term improvements in this area. Such improvements must stem from comprehensive policy frameworks and systemic approaches which are integral to the corporate performance of all relevant agencies.
Second, associated costs would be extremely high and are likely to duplicate many of the functions carried out by other agencies without significant value being added to the decision making process.
Third, because there are now a number of effective co-ordinating mechanisms in place which are addressing the major issues in this area - namely, the Department of Planning, the Coastal Committee, and the Catchment Management State Co-ordination Committee. These mechanisms offer significant potential to further improve co-ordination of government activities and initiatives.
Fourth, because the proposed natural resources management council, which will deal with major issues of significance relating to natural resource management, including the resolution of specific land use/natural resource management conflicts, will have a capacity to deal with such issues pertinent to the coast without duplicating the core activities of other agencies.
The standing committee commented on the need for a coastal resources database to assist in decision making. A geographic information system project is currently being undertaken within the Department of Planning with a pilot study having been completed. More importantly, the Premier's vision statement of the 23rd March 1992 announced that the Government will, over the next 5 years, conduct a major environmental audit of the State's natural resources involving up to $100 million expenditure. I will be seeking to ensure the coastal region is given priority in this major undertaking. This audit will be conducted under the supervision of the soon to be established natural resources management council representing both government and community interests. I am sure the standing committee would endorse these initiatives.
The standing committee's intentions to reduce conflict and uncertainty are commendable, however, it must also be recognised that planning is an evolving process and it would be impracticable to produce a finite plan or _blueprint' for the coast. Flexibility is required to cope with changes in social values, community expectations and attitudes.
The Government agrees with the standing committee that an effective public participation process is an integral component of the planning process for the coastal area and indeed the whole State. N.S.W. does have a highly participatory style of addressing coastal planning and management as evidenced by:
* the relevant provisions of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act and the processes under that Act;
* the consultative process put into place by the Coastal Committee which is independently chaired by Professor Bruce Thom; and
* the extensive regional planning exercises underway along the coast including the _North Coast region; Prelude to a Strategy' discussion paper released for comment in 1991; the Hunter region draft coastal urban settlement strategy released in February 1992; and the lower South Coast regional environment plan to be gazetted in the near future.
Therefore the Government does not share the committee's view that the current planning system is a reactive system. The development and implementation of the coastal policy and strategic urban planning documents and other regional studies and plans for the breadth of the coastline clearly signal the Government's intent and commitment to proactive management of the coastline while recognising its dynamic nature.
It is agreed that a strong State role is appropriate because often there is a need to take a regional or state-wide approach which transcends local government boundaries, and that the coastal region generally is of State and regional significance.
Accordingly, the State Government will continue to provide an overall framework with appropriate guidelines and regulatory mechanisms for local Government that will facilitate consistent and environmentally sensitive decisions on coastal issues. However, it should be recognised that local government has an important role to play.
With respect to _ecologically sustainable development' (ESD) the State and Commonwealth governments have been addressing this concept with the aim of ensuring it is incorporated into the decision making process. The coastal area has in fact been the subject of an ESD State working group. The Special Premier's Conference will be discussing this issue and an interim strategy for ESD and greenhouse will be available towards the end of the year and coastal management is an area to be addressed. The Resource Assessment Commission's coastal inquiry will also be examining ESD in the context of integrated coastal management and decision making.
It is pleasing to note that the standing committee recognised the Government's coastal policy as "pathfinding", "laying an important conceptual foundation . . . an attempt to view comprehensively the coastal area as a complex policy issue". Given this, it was disappointing that the committee did not positively use the coastal policy as a foundation to build and further develop policies for the coastal area. The Government does not see the coastal policy as a blueprint for the coast but a document to be regularly reviewed updated and developed.
The Coastal Committee of N.S.W. was charged with the overall responsibility for monitoring the implementation of the coastal policy and its review. This committee reports annually and its second report is due to be submitted to me shortly.
From the Coastal Committee's first report I am pleased to say that considerable progress has been made in the implementation of the strategic actions. I will also be advising the committee that it will be required to submit a revised draft coastal policy to me by the end of 1993 which will need to be developed through the community consultation process.
The standing committee's report clarified the need for formal community participation channels to be further developed. The planning system itself provides for public participation, however, further development of the coastal policy as I propose requires a formal mechanism to facilitate community involvement. As such, in the review of the Coastal Committee's role and function, which is currently being undertaken I am proposing a community advisory sub-committee be established to ensure the views and concerns of the community are taken into consideration in the decision making process in further developing the coastal policy.
The standing committee recommended the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures in preference to formal litigation in court. I agree with the use of this concept but I do not support the proposal of the standing committee for intervener funding. The Land and Environment Court recently introduced amended procedures to facilitate mediation or conciliation, which in effect constitute alternative dispute resolution procedures. The Department of Planning is also examining the alternative dispute resolution concept in review of the planning system.
This paper recognises that there are a wider range of processes to resolve issues other than the traditional adversarial ones of objectors and litigants. Alternative or additional means of resolution are looked at under three main headings:
* hearing by an independent body;
These three mechanisms or areas are being explored in the review and the standing committee's recommendations together with its primer on alternative dispute resolution will be carefully considered. A.D.R. strategies are seen to have applicability across the entire planning system, including coastal issues.
With respect to the concept of intervener funding as recommended in the standing committee's report this is not supported buy the Government. It is not seen as conducive to developing and encouraging alternative dispute resolution measures and in the current economic climate and budgetary context funding for such a program could not be justified. Questions of equity are also raised.
The planning system provides the opportunities for public participation and consultation in the stages of plan preparation, environmental impact statements and in the development control process.
In conclusion I feel the standing committee has identified some important issues not only for coastal planning but for environmental planning and management for the State of N.S.W. in particular: the need to further investigate and incorporate alternative dispute resolution techniques; ecologically sustainable development principles; more effective community participation; and the need to achieve greater certainty in the process. With respect to these, as the Minister for Planning I will endeavour to ensure the initiatives outlined here in the Government's response take into account the standing committee's findings.
FORMER MEMBER FOR DAVIDSON
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion, by leave, by the Hon. E. P. Pickering agreed to:
That as a matter of necessity and without previous notice so much of the standing orders be suspended as would preclude the consideration forthwith of a motion referring the appointment of Dr Terry Metherell to the senior executive service, to the Independent Commission Against Corruption for investigation and report.
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING (Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Vice-President of the Executive Council) [2.48]: I move:
That this House request the Independent Commission Against Corruption:
To investigate the facts and circumstances relating to the resignation of Dr Terry Metherell from the Parliament of New South Wales, and the appointment of Dr Metherell to a position in the Senior Executive Service or the Public Service of New South Wales, with a view to determining:
(a) whether any corrupt conduct has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur; and
(b) whether any laws governing any public authority or public official need to be changed for the purpose of reducing the likelihood of the occurrence of corrupt conduct; and
(c) whether any methods of work, practices or procedures of any public authority or public official did or could allow, encourage or cause the occurrence of corrupt conduct.
In particular, the Commission is to consider whether it is desirable to proscribe or regulate the appointment of persons who have ceased to be Members of Parliament to positions in the public sector.
This Government welcomes an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into the so-called Metherell affair and is confident the investigation will clear the good names of all those involved. Unlike the Australian Labor Party, which boasts a sorry tradition of political cover-ups, this Government has always been committed to open and accountable government. Our commitment to that principle is demonstrated in the motion before the House today. Allegations of corruption have been made and they will be independently and vigorously investigated. In deciding Parliament should refer this matter to the ICAC, this Government is insuring a full and proper inquiry by the State's anti-corruption watchdog - an organisation which is recognised as, first, independent, and, second, made up of competent professional investigators. The legislation which this Government introduced to set up the ICAC in 1988 holds the commission duty bound to investigate any matter referred to it by the Parliament. The Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 states, in part, under Section 73(1):
Both Houses of Parliament may, by resolution of each House, refer to the Commission any matter of the kind mentioned in Section 13(2) .
That section outlines the functions of the ICAC. I should indicate at this point that in another place at this moment a similar motion is being proposed to that Chamber. Section 73(2) states:
It is the duty of the Commission to fully investigate a matter referred to in section 13(2)(a).
Section 74(2) states:
The Commission shall prepare reports in relation to a matter referred to the Commission by both Houses of Parliament, as directed by those Houses.
The commissioner, Mr Temby, has promised a swift yet rigorous investigation of this matter. The terms of reference for the ICAC inquiry have been agreed to by Mr Temby, the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition. This Government looks forward to Mr Temby's findings with confidence. In closing I remind honourable members that the Opposition has foreshadowed a censure motion against the Government. It is my intention as soon as this debate is concluded to seek the support of the House to suspend standing orders to allow that censure debate to proceed forthwith. I hope that the Leader of the Opposition concurs with that. I doubt he would argue that the Opposition is unprepared to proceed today with that debate. By his nodding assent I assume that to be the case. Under those circumstances I take the view that the House ought to take the motion now before the House very much as a procedural matter, in compliance simply with the Act, to enable the ICAC inquiry to continue. Any matters honourable members may wish to raise on the substantive matter ought to be dealt with during the subsequent censure debate. I am sure honourable members would concur with that procedure being followed. As I said, the Government will not oppose that censure motion being debated in the House today. The motion now before this House is a procedural one to facilitate the reference to the ICAC of Dr Metherell's appointment. For that reason I have spoken briefly to the motion. I commend the motion to the House.
The Hon. M. R. EGAN (Leader of the Opposition) [2.53]: The Opposition supports the motion moved by the Leader of the Government. For the reasons that the Minister for Police and Emergency Services has given to the House, I will reserve the comments which I would otherwise have made on this motion to the censure motion which will shortly follow.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE [2.54]: The Call to Australia group is pleased to support the motion before the House. Yesterday I was advised by the Premier that this matter would be brought before both Houses at the initiation of the Government. In his letter dated 27th April, 1992, the Premier stated:
I am writing to you concerning the proposed reference to the Independent Commission Against Corruption of matters relating to Dr Metherell's appointment to the Public Service.
Cabinet has considered the matter today. I write to you to advise you of the course of action proposed to be taken when the Parliament reconvenes tomorrow.
We are of the view that the commencement of the process for a resolution of both Houses to refer the matter to the ICAC should take precedence over other business in Parliament tomorrow.
It is my intention, therefore, to seek, immediately after Mr Speaker takes the Chair, suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders so that I may move a motion to initiate the reference to Mr Temby.
Mr Pickering will be following a similar course of action in the Legislative Council.
A copy of the text of the proposed resolution referring matters to Mr Temby is set out below. The terms of reference have been agreed to by the Commissioner, the Leader of the Opposition and myself.
I am pleased that the motion before the House has been agreed to by the commissioner, by the Opposition and, of course, by the Premier. I have been reported in the news media as calling for some sort of judicial inquiry into this matter, with my preference being an inquiry conducted by someone such as Mr Justice John Slattery to establish whether there was a prima facie case and for the matter then to be referred to the ICAC. When a matter has been referred to the ICAC involving members of the other place and even members of this House, the presumption on the part of the media is one of guilt rather than one of innocence. That has been a matter of concern. I fully support the motion. As has been stated, the ICAC is independent and competent. In this case it is to be the umpire, and I believe we should wait for the umpire's decision. I am pleased with the reference of this matter by the Leader of the House that the ICAC will treat this matter as a matter of urgency. It is vital that this matter not be allowed to drag on. The ICAC must make this inquiry a top priority. If additional resources are needed, the Government should make those resources available so there can be no reason for delay. We support the motion.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY [2.57]: On behalf of the Australia Democrats I support the motion of the Leader of the Government that the Metherell affair be referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Ministers and members of Parliament are entrusted with the power to make decisions that affect the lives of citizens.
It is therefore essential that that power is exercised in the public interest and that their conduct is in actuality and in appearance beyond reproach. Over the past few weeks the saga relating to the political appointment of the former member for Davidson, Dr Metherell, has unfolded. The ramifications of that appointment are enormous for our democratic system. The Premier has admitted that the appointment of Dr Metherell to the senior executive service was political. However, we are not talking about just any political appointment, reprehensible as that already is. We are talking about the political appointment of a member of Parliament who resigned his position as an elected representative of the people in order to take up a five-year public service position that pays $110,000 a year. The circumstances in which Dr Metherell came to hold this position are extremely dubious, and what has been established over the past few weeks is incredible and raises serious questions about the propriety of the behaviour of those involved. Indeed, one could go so far as to say that there may have been corrupt behaviour.
It is my belief that Commissioner Temby of the Independent Commission Against Corruption would not have taken it upon himself to speak with the Premier and to say that the Independent Commission Against Corruption should take charge of this matter, and carry out an inquiry because of the concern that had been raised during the chronology of events that were unfolded to the people of this State and Australia through the medium of the press. In this matter we have to bear in mind Dr Metherell's gradual rapprochement with the Greiner Government after his incredible resignation from the Liberal Party last year. We must bear in mind also that the process began after Dr Metherell indicated that he was unhappy with his position in the Parliament. For example, in March Dr Metherell appeared on the "7.30 Report", and as Mark Coultan of the Sydney Morning Herald observed afterwards, "His tone was completely different from that of the harsh Government critic he had been". Dr Metherell also welcomed the Premier's vision statement. By 18th April all the indications were that Dr Metherell and Mr Greiner were once again on speaking terms. The House should be aware that the appointment of Dr Metherell clearly went against the spirit, if not the letter, of senior executive service appointment guidelines. I quote from those guidelines referring to the selection options:
Chief executive officers may wish to consider a range of techniques or combinations including: use of executive search; combination of executive search and selection committee; direct appointment after reviewing suitable applicants from an agency or Office of Public Management executive personnel data base. This process should be subject to some independent scrutiny as outlined in 3.4.
That last sentence is important. So far as can be ascertained there has been no independent scrutiny in this instance. It is often said that history repeats itself. The Metherell affair has a parallel in the state of affairs under Premier Cowper, who was New South Wales Premier off and on between 1858 and 1870. That period of our political history is notorious as a time when the institution of Parliament was degraded. The conservative politicians condemned Premier Cowper for turning politics into a "purely commercial world of barter, and of bargain and sale", and for not having the wit to see the effects this would have on the reputation of democratic government. Apparently Premier Cowper used political appointments as a means of controlling the House. I quote from J. B. Hirst in The Strange Birth of Colonial Democracy:
Regular supporters were rewarded with jobs and troublesome opponents were removed with jobs. The practice which Cowper inaugurated became standard; between 1856 and 1890 10 per cent of the members elected ended their parliamentary career by accepting a government appointment. . . . The most blatant case occurred in 1959 when a man took a job immediately after his election and so never even entered the House.
That was the member for Maitland at that time. He said that he felt no one would quarrel with his taking this opportunity of rising in his profession and of advancing his means. His name was Chambers, a Maitland solicitor. The last parliamentarian for whom Premier Cowper found a job was himself. In 1870 he retired from colonial politics and became Agent-General in London. He retained that position until his death. We have a lot to learn from history. Account must be taken also of the fact that more than 100 years ago that type of political behaviour probably was acceptable. It is not acceptable in the 1990s. The fact that so many Independent members are being elected, not only to this Parliament but also to the Federal Parliament, shows that the public is not willing to accept that behaviour any more. I welcome this inquiry. I called for the establishment of a joint select committee of the Parliament because I believed that the matter should be investigated by the Parliament. But when I discovered that Mr Temby had offered to carry out an investigation by means of the Independent Commission Against Corruption I thought it was obvious that was a far better way of solving this problem. Mr Temby has trained investigative officers, is a trained investigator himself, and undeniably is independent, as many members of this House will testify.
My only fear is similar to that expressed already by Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: that this inquiry may drag on for many weeks or months. I trust and hope that will not happen. If too much time elapses before the inquiry is completed and the report laid on the table of the House, the public will believe that this has been a whitewash or an attempt at a cover-up. That is the last thing we would want. I know that Commissioner Temby is not able to put a time frame on his inquiry. Indeed in conversation I have had with him he expressed the hope that the Parliament would not attempt to put a time frame on his inquiry. However, he is well aware that the inquiry must be conducted as speedily as possible so that the matter can be laid to rest for all time. I support the Minister's motion.
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING (Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Vice-President of the Executive Council) [3.6], in reply: I thank honourable members for their support of the motion, which I commend to the House.
Motion agreed to.
Message forwarded to the Legislative Assembly advising it of the resolution.
CENSURE OF GOVERNMENT
Suspension of Standing Orders
Motion, by leave, by the Hon. M. R. Egan agreed to:
That as a matter of necessity and without previous notice so much of the standing orders and sessional orders be suspended as would preclude the consideration forthwith of the notice of motion given by the Leader of the Opposition for next sitting day concerning the censure of the Government relating to the appointment of Dr Terry Metherell to the Senior Executive Service.
The Hon. M. R. EGAN (Leader of the Opposition) [3.9]: I move:
(1) Censures the Government over the appointment of Dr Terry Metherell to the Senior Executive Service;
(2) Calls upon the Hon. N. F. Greiner, M.P., Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Ethnic Affairs and the Hon. T. J. Moore, LL.B., M.P., Minister for the Environment to stand aside from their positions until the conclusion of any inquiry that might be conducted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption; and
(3) Calls upon the Government to exercise the Crown prerogative to terminate Dr Metherell's appointment without compensation.
The inquiry which the House has set in train by the motion which has just been passed is an entirely necessary inquiry. But, let there be no mistake at all: the people of New South Wales have already returned their verdict. They have witnessed the crime being committed before their own eyes. They now know that they have a lying Premier and a corrupt Government. Of all of the lies told by the Premier and the Government during the last fortnight, none was sillier or more insincere than the Premier's claim last Friday that the Government welcomed the inquiry by the Independent Commission Against Corruption. This is not an inquiry that the Government has chosen; this is an inquiry that has been forced upon the Government. It is an inquiry that the Government spent all last week trying to avoid, with excuse after stupid excuse. Of all of the contemptible events of the last fortnight, none was more contemptible than the Premier's cowardice last Friday. Finally seized with the seriousness of his predicament the Premier last Friday made some attempt to defuse at least part of the crisis. Together with his hapless colleague the Minister for the Environment, he met with Dr Metherell and issued him with an ultimatum: that he either resign forthwith or have his appointment terminated. But the Premier's resolve was very shortlived. Dr Metherell emerged from that meeting, that showdown last Friday victorious with his $550,000 appointment intact.
Let us hope that the Independent Commission Against Corruption gets to the bottom of this mystery that has every citizen of this State not only baffled but utterly dismayed. Why is it that Dr Metherell can call the Premier's bluff? What is it that Dr Metherell has on the Premier? What does Dr Metherell have on this Premier for the Premier to backdown completely from the ultimatum which he gave to Dr Metherell last week? When Dr Metherell emerged from that meeting last Friday, he made sure that everyone knew of the Premier's backdown and humiliation. It was not the Premier who told us last Friday of the ultimatum given to Dr Metherell; it was Dr Metherell who boasted about it. The Premier had been eaten alive and Dr Metherell, the Hannibal Lechter of New South Wales politics, wanted everyone to know. Facing the prospect of the clink, the Premier is now trying to blame everyone but himself. This is the same Premier who, on 11th April, was boasting to all and sundry of his political conquest; the same Premier who is now doing all he can to distance himself from the deed. He wants us to forget the Metherell payoff, the $550,000 appointment, was given in the Premier's own department and he wants us to forget that he discussed the plot on at least four occasions and gave instructions to his own department head to tell Tim Moore how it was to be executed. Now the Premier is saying: "Your Honour, I am innocent. I did not execute the crime; I only encouraged and approved it; I only shared in the ill-gotten gains, but I did not do it myself. How can I be guilty when all I did was to set up others to do it?" The simple fact of the matter is that the Premier is involved in this appointment of Dr Metherell up to his neck.
On the "7.30 Report" on 12th April Dr Metherell was asked by Mr Dempster, "Did you discuss this transition to public service with Mr Greiner?" Dr Metherell replied, "Yes". Then, on 15th April, the Premier himself was being interviewed by Mr John Laws and Mr Greiner said this, "I obviously was involved to the extent that I said that if there was a position for which the person was qualified then I would not
intervene to stop him being offered that position". Mr Laws asked, "Were you aware of who that person was?" And Mr Greiner replied, "Of course". In the Daily Telegraph Mirror of 15th April Tim Moore is quoted as saying, "He" - that is Mr Greiner - "was kept informed by me on maybe four occasions". On the Alan Jones program on 21st April Mr Greiner said, "On this matter it was clearly a decision that I made, and I don't seek to pass the buck to anyone". On 25th April Tim Moore was quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald as saying "In a general sense he" - being Mr Greiner - "was informed towards the end of February".
The Premier of course now wants us to believe that he is sorry, and he appears to be aggrieved that no one will forgive him. He admits it was a tremendous mistake. The job should have been advertised. The Premier should remember what he was taught at school: no repentance without restitution. No one has any sympathy for this Premier. And no one will forgive him, because he lacks the gumption to rectify his wrong. This was the Premier who made the solemn promise to the New South Wales people that there would be no more jobs for the boys. But, as soon as he felt politically secure, he appointed his own wife to a $24,000 a year part-time job on the board of Elcom, in fact, $2,000 for every meeting she attended.
The Hon. Dr Marlene Goldsmith: What about Neville Wran's wife?
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: She never took any payment at all. She did not have to wait for three months until she was finally hauled before the media to say, "Oh, but I was never going to take any money". It was made clear right from the start. I believe it was a non-paying position. The Premier followed up the appointment of his own wife to this $24,000 a year job with the appointment of Neil Pickard as Agent-General to London, a post which the Premier promised to abolish before he became Premier in 1988. As contemptible as these appointments were, they pale to complete insignificance compared with the appointment of Dr Metherell, because this appointment is much more than merely another job for the boys. It is much more than that. This appointment is a bribe. This appointment is a bribe, pure and simple - a bribe dangled in front of a political opponent while he was voting on crucial legislation and, indeed, an opponent whose vote was the crucial vote on particular legislation. It is a bribe to get that member to vacate his seat so that a shaky government can bolster its numbers before the catastrophe comes in Maitland, The Hills and North Shore. It was a bribe to keep this shonky Government in power.
What else would you expect from the political sons and daughters of Robin Askin? In Tasmania the Liberal leader knew of the bribe to entice a Labor member to cross the floor of the Tasmanian Parliament. In New South Wales the Liberal leader conspired to bribe an opponent to leave the Parliament. What a miserable commentary on the morality and ethics of the Liberals that they can see nothing wrong with what their leaders have done. In Tasmania they have rewarded Robin Gray with a new ministry and in New South Wales they will elevate Nicholas Hugo Greiner to the pedestal that until now they have reserved for Robin Askin. That is why the Cabinet endorsed the Premier's actions at its Maitland meeting on 14th April and that is why it confirmed that endorsement yesterday. Would you not think that after two weeks of the public unfolding of this sleazy affair that they would at least - at last - have the spine and the gumption to tell the Premier that the appointment of Dr Metherell had to be terminated and to tell him to do the right thing and stand down while the Independent Commission Against Corruption hearing was proceeding? Not at all. Spinelessly they went along with the Premier and endorsed every action of the Premier and every lie the Premier has told us since 10th April. Every single lie, they endorsed. They are all as guilty as the Premier, all of them.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: Who?
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: The Cabinet. Every single member of that Cabinet is as guilty of the crime as the Premier. They feel no shame that they have used more than $1 million of taxpayers' money, public money, to execute that crime - $1 million of taxpayers' money this shabby, sleazy affair has cost the taxpayers of New South Wales. That is why Government members, all of them, are absolutely and completely doomed, because they have no standards, no ethics and no scruples. The motion I have moved today is in three parts. First it calls upon the House to censure the Government for the Metherell appointment. There can surely be no honest member who would deny that this Government is deserving of the censure of this House. The motion also calls upon the Premier and the Minister for the Environment to stand aside from their posts while the Independent Commission Against Corruption is proceeding with its hearing on this very grave matter. Of course, we expect only the standard which the present Premier expected in 1983 when he maintained that once an inquiry was established concerning the Premier or a Minister of State, there was an obligation on the Premier or the Minister to stand aside for the duration of that hearing. Of course not only on the ground of propriety is it essential that the Premier stand down. It is also essential on the ground of common sense, because no one can deny that the Government of New South Wales will come to a virtual standstill if, for the next four weeks, the person who is supposed to be at the helm is preoccupied with the hearing of the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
The third part of the motion demands that the Government take action to terminate without compensation the appointment of Dr Metherell. Regardless of the finding of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, there are sufficient grounds for the House to insist upon the termination of that appointment. No one can deny that this appointment to the ranks of the public service is quite contrary to the spirit and letter of the Public Sector Management Act. It is section 26 of that Act that requires that an appointment to the senior executive service be on a merit selection basis. Section 26 provides two alternative sets of requirements, depending on whether the position is advertised or not advertised. If the position is advertised, the departmental head must, after going through all the required selection processes, appoint the person with the greatest merit. If the position is not advertised, the departmental head must appoint to the vacancy an officer who is already in the administrative unit in which the vacancy arises.
It is quite clear that the provisions of that Act have been breached in the appointment of Dr Terry Metherell. It is also, of course, apparent to anyone who reads and who is willing to listen to the evidence that the appointment was contrary to all of the guidelines contained in the publication of the Office of Public Management"Senior Executive Service: Recruitment, Selection and Appointment Guidelines". It is fascinating to read some of the material in the guidelines. It states, "It is important that an objective assessment of applicants is not only made, but seen to be made". Later on it says, "The prime consideration in the selection process is its credibility and integrity which gives applicants confidence that the merit principle is being applied". On the next page it gives all the requirements about the selection committees, and I will not bore the House with those details because they are available for all who want to read the document. The simple fact is that none of these procedures was met with the appointment of Dr Terry Metherell.
What an absurdity it was for the Premier's office - the Premier's press secretary - on Easter Monday to ring the two daily newspapers, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Daily Telegraph Mirror, and try to pretend to them that Dr Metherell had
applied for his position in the normal way and had been appointed in the normal way. That was the excuse on Easter Monday and the reason for that excuse was that it was at that stage that the Government knew it was in deep trouble on the question of inducement and corruption and it had to create the excuse that in fact the appointment was above board and had been through normal channels. Two days later we found out what the normal channels meant. Two days later we found out that the position was created on 10th April; Dr Metherell applied on 10th April; all of the selection procedures and interviews were apparently carried out on 10th April; Dr Metherell was appointed on 10th April and resigned from Parliament on 10th April.
If ever there was evidence, pure and simple, that the resignation and the appointment of Dr Metherell was all part and parcel of the one sleazy business arrangement, it was that admission from the Government last Wednesday. It was an admission that this has been a sleazy deal by this Government using the taxpayers' money to buy a seat in Parliament and to shore up its shaky fortunes in this Parliament. As I said at the outset, the jury, which is the people of New South Wales, has already returned its verdict, and the verdict is guilty absolutely guilty; and that verdict will be driven home whenever this Government has the guts to face the people. In the meantime it is incumbent upon this Parliament to insist on proper behaviour, to censure this sleazy Government, to insist that the Premier and the Minister for the Environment stand down from their positions, and to insist that the Government terminate Dr Metherell's $550,000 appointment.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY [3.31]: I support the motion before the House. The events of the last few weeks have rocked the State to its foundations. Those words may be a cliche but they are nonetheless true. They have also coined a new word, "Metherellism": to persist or act, no matter how detrimental to one's friends, compatriots, or party, no matter how costly to the taxpayers and the community; also, to fail to achieve in both politics and the community for selfish reasons. The events of the last few weeks have their roots in the two most corrupting influences in public life: power and money. A Premier with the power to create a job for a man who stood in the way of his government gaining control of the Parliament, however tenuous that control might be; an ex-Minister, an ex-party colleague, who apparently saw the opportunity to obtain a highly paid job without losing his superannuation and without going through the proper selection procedures. Whatever Dr Metherell may pretend, this is not just a case of a man who retires from politics and then moves into the public service. On the admission of both Dr Metherell and the Premier's office, Dr Metherell's application for the senior executive service job in the Premier's Department was put in at 1.30 p.m.
The PRESIDENT: Order! It is quite obvious to me that the Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby's voice is not at its normal standard and therefore I am having great difficulty in hearing what the honourable member is saying, particularly with the level of interjections that are being interposed. I ask honourable members to refrain so that at least I have the privilege of hearing what the honourable member has to say.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY: As I was saying, on the admission of both Dr Metherell and the Premier's office, Dr Metherell's application for the senior Executive Service job in the Premier's Department was put in at 1.30 p.m. on Friday, 10th April. Dr Metherell resigned at 4.30 p.m. on 10th April and at 5.15 p.m. the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Administrative Services went to the Governor and the appointment was proclaimed. It took four hours for Dr Metherell to make the transition from politician to public servant. I defy members of the Government to suggest that any other appointment in the public service has ever been processed in
such a short time. I defy them to deny that it would have been impossible unless there had been lengthy discussions beforehand. Indeed, various people involved in this scandal have been forced to admit that the first discussion between Dr Metherell and his friends and colleagues took place as far back as 7th February. In spite of these admissions, Dr Metherell is arrogant enough to believe that he has been badly treated. Only two days ago he said, "I think there is a question of justice involved here."
Indeed there is. Injustice has been suffered by the other 165 people who applied for a job which was specially created for Dr Metherell and only advertised as matter of form. There has been even greater injustice done to five of the 165 applicants who were identified by the SES unit as candidates with potential, as candidates with suitable qualifications for that job, but who were not lucky enough to have friends in high places, friends who could fast-track job applications - even an application that arrived a week late - and then were able to stitch up a deal in a matter of four hours. No wonder these revelations have shocked and disgusted all right-thinking people. The way in which the resignation of Dr Metherell and the announcement of his SES job have been handled has turned the selection procedures of the Government into a highly reprehensible joke. Now you see the breath-taking hypocrisy of a man who wrote to the Premier on 3rd February saying that he wanted to restore "public service morals", a man who two short months later connived a scheme which allowed him to achieve a job at the rate of $110,000 a year in a matter of hours.
There are 1,603 SES officers in New South Wales at this time. Many of them had no choice but to become part of the senior executive service. Either they applied for an SES job on contract or they faced the prospect of becoming redundant. But they all had to apply; they all had to go through strict procedures: being interviewed, presenting credentials, and generally accepting that for jobs that commanded such high salaries they must face rigorous assessment. Why then was Dr Metherell the exception - particularly as he deserted his party last year and is now regarded by many Liberals as a traitor? How then was he able to jump the queue and gain a specially created job in the Premier's Department in a matter of hours? Why? This is the salient question - the question that ICAC will now answer. By his actions Dr Metherell not only has shown his contempt for due process, for open and fair selection procedures, but has cast doubts on the workload carried out by many of the SES officers selected over the past two years.
Again I quote Dr Metherell's words from the Sydney Morning Herald of 25th April, "There is nothing corrupt or improper about someone wishing to leave politics, to spend some more time with their family, lead a less pressured life". At the salary he negotiated I believe he would be equally pressured and equally prepared to work long hours as a public servant. There are many senior executive officers who do; we see them sitting in this Chamber until the early hours of the morning waiting to advise their Ministers. Does Dr Metherell suggest that in his new job he will go home at five o'clock every day? There are many hundreds of public servants who do not. There are doctors in our public hospitals earning $40,000 a year and working up to 80 hours a week, many of whom have young families. There are social workers and counsellors in the Department of Community Services who earn less than $35,000 a year. They, too, are public servants with family responsibilities, but their increasingly heavy caseloads mean that they might have to work 60 or 70 hours a week. They, too, deserve more time with their families. Do they not deserve a less pressured lifestyle?
I am appalled by the dazzling ignorance and the total self-interest of a man who believes he has a right to walk from one highly paid job to another in a matter of hours and who then has the hide to say that it is because he wants to spend more time with his
family - in today's economic climate. Where thousands of people are out of work and are losing their homes because they cannot afford to meet their mortgage repayments and cannot afford to keep their families in basic necessities, much less in small luxuries, Dr Metherell's attitude leaves me with a sense of outrage which is compounded only by his bland assertion, "There is absolutely no impropriety involved". There is gross impropriety in the way he achieved his new job and there is unbelievable hypocrisy in his assertion that the request that he resign now is unjust, unfair and prejudicial. Injustice has been done to the other applicants who applied for that appointment in good faith. Unfairness has been inflicted upon thousands of hard-working public servants, many of whom have had their jobs terminated by this Government's down-sizing of departments. It is the public service and the Parliament that have been prejudiced.
It is commonplace to label public servants as lazy, ineffective bureaucrats. The Government and the Cabinet apparently agree that public service is not onerous and, therefore, is suitable for someone looking for a quieter lifestyle. It is also widely accepted by the public that politicians are overpaid, lazy, dishonest and out for themselves, interested only in getting their noses in the trough. Regrettably, this view of politicians has only been entrenched by the revelations in the Metherell affair. Here is a politician who was not content to resign, take his Minister's superannuation and then apply for another job, going through the usual selection process. That process is not good enough for Dr Metherell. He demanded a job at a higher salary, specially created and tied up in an apparently watertight contract, even before his resignation from this Parliament was announced. Only 24 hours ago - on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's "7.30 Report" last night - Dr Metherell appeared saying, "You've got to be true to the bedrock principles you believe in". What are his bedrock principles? To manipulate the system to suit himself? Such behaviour is beyond contempt and it degrades the institution of the Parliament. It feeds the popular myths and misconceptions about politicians. It gives credence to the popular view of greedy, grasping, selfish men who enter public life only to service their own ends.
But what of the Ministers in this Government who orchestrated this debacle - men who now refuse to stand down for the duration of the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry; men who dare to say that what happened was neither immoral nor improper and was carried out legally? I begin to wonder what actions they would believe to be immoral or improper. The people of New South Wales have the right to know, because these Ministers and their most senior advisers are in control of this State. They have the power, the authority and the legal standing to run the State as they wish. If they are so foolish, so blind and so out of touch that they really believe the people of New South Wales want the State to be run in this way, they not only are ignorant but are stupid and deserving of censure. It proves that they have divorced themselves from reality, from ordinary life and from all sense of common decency. It proves that they have no comprehension of the way in which honest, hard-working people live, how they think, how they struggle, and what real life is all about.
What has happened is an obscenity. It is now a national scandal. It is indefensible. There can be no excuses. These events did not happen by accident and they were not events outside the control of the Government. The Premier, the Minister for the Environment and their advisers engineered it. It does not matter what Dr Metherell wanted; they had the power to refuse him. It has been said that the affair is now assuming the dimensions of a Greek tragedy. It could also be said that it has the elements of a French farce, but it is too serious to joke about. Every day another door opens and another head pops out and makes some amazing statement that simply adds to the impropriety. Every excuse that is offered is less believable than the excuses that have
gone before. I am outraged by the stupidity, the lack of political nous and the lack of plain common sense that have characterised every statement and every action. The players are insulting the intelligence of the citizens of New South Wales - the voters who gave them the power they have abused; the voters who expect them to work for the good order and government of this State.
When the affair became public three weeks ago I received telephone calls from constituents who asked me whether Metherell was going to get away with it. In the past week I have received telephone calls from constituents demanding that I act to ensure that Metherell is stripped of his job, that he gets no compensation, and that an inquiry into the affair is expedited. I have already made my views clear to the Premier in person. I requested that Dr Metherell be dismissed, that the Minister for the Environment be relieved of his portfolio, and that there be an independent inquiry. I made it clear also that I would support a censure motion in the House. I went further and said that I would move such a motion in this Chamber. Now an ICAC inquiry is to be established, through this Parliament. I call on the Premier to step down for the duration of the inquiry. I do not believe it is good enough to say that there are no charges against him, because that is not the point. The point is that he has allowed his Ministers, his advisers and members of his staff to flout all canons of acceptable behaviour. He ignored all normal selection procedures. He involved himself in a job creation scheme for his own political advantage and that is grossly improper. He has misused the authority of his office and he has abused the trust placed in him as Premier of this State.
In recent weeks there has been much debate in this Chamber about the Westminster system of government and its connection with the monarchy. The Westminster system of government demands that Ministers who behave in an improper manner resign or step down if their actions are under investigation. They do not have to be accused of corrupt conduct; they do not have to be accused of dishonesty; and they do not even have to be accused of maladministration. I know that there are Liberals, both inside and outside this Parliament, who now believe that the Premier has brought their party into disrepute.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering: Is the honourable member saying that a Minister should step down if he is criticised?
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY: If he is criticised in the way that Ministers have been criticised for the handling of this affair. There are public servants who believe he has brought the public service into disrepute. Unless he stands down until the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry is completed, he will bring the Parliament into disrepute. I support the censure motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition and the demand that the Premier step down until Commissioner Temby reports to the Parliament. After the weeks of indecision, the fumbling and the feeble excuses there is now no other course open to him, if he is a man of honour. This is not a game. This morning on radio at about quarter past seven the honourable member for North Shore talked about politics as a game. He talked about the captain who drops the ball and misses the try in the first half of the game but then goes on to win the game in the second half. I do not believe that this is a proper analogy for the running of a parliament or for the running of a State; I believe it is a very frivolous way in which to deal with the matter. In this Parliament we deal with matters of life and death for the people of this State. We are not playing men's games. We are considering legislation; we are taking actions that affect every single person in the State. That is far more important than what I know many Australians believe to be the most important thing in life, and that is the game of rugby league football. This morning I received a letter - and I think many other members of the House may have received the same letter - from a group that calls itself Voices from the Electorate. The letter, addressed to me, reads:
This is a plea for sanity and saving of valuable resources and time that we address to the leading players in Government and Parliament.
Please consider the enclosed points in your deliberations, surely the People and the State of New South Wales must be more important than the individual grievances and the parties.
We hope the people in the electorate of Davidson will give due consideration to the broader issues for the State of New South Wales also.
In an attached broadsheet the group said:
In the "first voices from the electorate" we suggested that the key elements in the "Metherell/Greiner logic" is the continuous and further "erosion of the Political Profession and [liberal] Party and their standing in the community" - because of the sleazy deals some of our leading elected politicians have produced, again.
Second, - "the enormous cost to Us - the taxpayers" that these acts of futility and waste have created. Monies that should have been spent on some of the projects that the Premier mentioned in his leaflet and questionnaire that we found in our letterbox, dated April 1992.
The subjects in this questionnaire must also have been a waste, as the "M-affair" made the credibility to say the least, doubtful . . .
Mr. Premier, New South Wales is not the best-performing State but the worst-performing State right now, and the only true comment in your leaflet is that there is plenty room for improvement, especially on the very top of the ladder.
If a simple employment situation can cost so much upheaval and money for this State, what will happen if we have a real important crisis on our hands? - Wait for the next election or privatise the State of New South Wales - because we haven't any business brains in the length and breadth of Macquarie Street?
Having watched the interview with Dr. Metherell last Friday night . . . we have come to the conclusion that the good Doctor must be approaching the ranks of the unemployables - and fast, if he persists with his points of view, and what we have decided to call "metherellism".
Who can afford such an expensive and troublesome employee? - If we, the taxpayers, cannot afford him, it is doubtful that private enterprise can. Please, someone straighten-out the good doctor to change his philosophy - nobody can afford the cost and time involved.
As for the political process - please let's all be sensible, cut your losses - bury your injured pride and get back to the real important jobs - Unemployment - Hospitals - Government spending - Reducing Crime - Protecting the Environment - Improving our Highways and all the other Jobs.
However, if that is too much to ask why not get out altogether and "privatise yourselves" - at least you can "honestly" pay for your own beliefs and philosophies and find-out what life is all about in the real world - and as a "volunteer-politician you can help us - to keep the Bastards Honest" - as Don Chipp used to say - and Productive - we say.
There is much public anger. If members on the Government benches do not believe there is public anger, they are blind to the realities of this situation and the public anger. Members of the public believe the traditions of the Westminster system should be carried out - and that means that one steps aside until one is cleared. I believe that is why the Ministers should step aside until Commissioner Temby has completed his inquiry.
By way of interjection, the Hon. J. F. Ryan has said that Premier Wran stepped aside as Premier during the Street royal commission because of the burden of the inquiry. I cannot believe that Commissioner Temby's inquiry will be any less heavy on Premier Greiner or on Minister Moore than the Sir Laurence Street royal commission was on Premier Wran. They will have to devote their entire time to it and will not have time to devote to their heavy duties as leader of the State and as a Minister with such a sensitive portfolio as the environment. I support the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition and believe it deserves the support of all honourable members so that we are seen to be upholding the best traditions of parliamentary democracy.
The Hon. B. H. VAUGHAN (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [3.56]: I support the motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. M. R. Egan:
(1) Censures the Government over the appointment of Dr Terry Metherell to the Senior Executive Service;
(2) Calls upon the Honourable N. F. Greiner, M.P., Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Ethnic Affairs and the Honourable T. J. Moore, LL.B., M.P., Minister for the Environment to stand aside from their positions until the conclusion of any inquiry that might be conducted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption; and
(3) Calls upon the Government to exercise the Crown prerogative to terminate Dr Metherell's appointment without compensation.
This afternoon the Leader of the Opposition detailed the chronology of this sordid, so-called Metherell affair. Sometimes people, parties and parliaments forget to have a look at the chronology of an issue, but this afternoon the Leader of the Opposition exhaustively detailed this chronology. I ask honourable members - indeed, I am prepared to plead with members of this House - to study that chronology. I submit that it is almost with an outstanding inevitability that, having considered that chronology, the members of this House can reach only one conclusion. In the decade that I have been a member of this House I do not recall a motion seeking to censure the Government.
The PRESIDENT: Order! Pursuant to sessional orders, business is interrupted for the taking of questions.
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
MINISTER FOR SCHOOL EDUCATION AND YOUTH AFFAIRS
The Hon. M. R. EGAN: My question is directed to the Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs. I ask whether the Minister was the Executive Council duty Minister for the period surrounding 10th to 16th April, 1992? Did she stand aside for any other Minister at Executive Council meetings during this period? If so, why and at whose instigation?
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: I confess that I really do not understand the question of the Leader of the Opposition. Attendance at Executive Council meetings is in accordance with a roster, usually with two Ministers attending each Executive Council meeting. It is fairly common practice for those meeting dates to be put in one's diary and, if other events or obligations intervene, informal arrangements to swap dates are made by one's staff with the staff of other Ministers. The favour is then paid back
by attending Executive Council meetings for other Ministers. I confess that, despite the important function of the Executive Council, I do not immediately recall what dates I would be rostered to attend because such meetings are just automatically placed into my diary. If those meetings clash with other obligations, alternative arrangements are made. However, I am more than happy to ask my staff to check through my diary to ascertain whether I was or was not rostered on the dates mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition and advise the House accordingly. I assure the honourable member that what I have said about Executive Council meetings and changes that occur to rosters is accurate. There has been no attendance or lack of attendance at Executive Council meetings for any reason other than those already outlined, which are to do with the functioning of my own diary.
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: Earlier in question time the Leader of the Opposition asked me a question. I wonder whether the Hon. M. R. Egan is still the Leader of the Opposition. He is never in the Chamber. Despite the fact that the Leader of the Opposition appears no longer to be attending question time, when he was in the Chamber briefly at the beginning of question time he asked me a question about my duty as a member of the Executive Council. As best I can remember, he asked whether I was the duty Minister for the period surrounding 10th to 16th April and whether I had stood aside for any other Minister to attend meetings during that period. During question time I have checked with my diary secretary. I am informed that I was not rostered at any time for the period 10th to 16th April. It follows, therefore, that there was no change one way or the other.
The Hon. J. M. SAMIOS: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Vice-President of the Executive Council. Is the Minister aware of the latest Morgan poll published in today's Time magazine which shows that 52 per cent of those polled believe that the present design of the Australian flag should be retained and that 57 per cent said that the Union Jack should be retained on the flag? Is the Minister further aware of a report in the Sydney Morning Herald which said that the Prime Minister, Mr Keating, plans to tell Parliament that the time is past for our flag to represent two nations - the Union Jack will have to go? Does the Minister not agree that any proposal by the Federal Government to unilaterally change the Australian flag and consequently the New South Wales State flag without full public discussion and a public referendum is both precipitous and prejudicial to the social cohesion and stability of our multicultural society?
The Hon. P. F. O'Grady: On a point of order. Earlier today the Hon. J. F. Ryan gave notice of a motion which deals with precisely this matter. Therefore, the House has on its business paper a motion which deals with the subject-matter of the question asked the Hon. J. M. Samios. Therefore, Mr President, I ask that you rule the question out of order.
The PRESIDENT: Order! In my opinion the question asked by the Hon. J. M. Samios is not in anticipation of the motion placed on notice today. Apart from that fact I also must take into consideration the anticipation as to when, if ever, the honourable member's notice of motion might come on for debate. No point of order is involved.
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: I believe every member of the House would freely acknowledge that a country's flag is an important symbol which constitutes a rallying point for the nation. It is obviously a symbol which can have considerable depth of meaning to the vast majority of citizens, particularly citizens who have fought under that flag and those who are related to people who fought and died under that flag. It is self-evident that the Prime Minister is acutely aware that the vast majority of citizens of this State, indeed of any State or nation, would regard the national flag as being of great importance. It is for that reason that the Prime Minister has chosen to create a public debate about the Australian flag. I might add that so far as he is concerned that debate has nothing to do with the nature of the flag. To my mind the Prime Minister could not give a continental about the design of the flag. The Prime Minister is seeking to concentrate attention on a public debate on the flag in the hope that we will forget about the economic condition of this State. The Prime Minister is desperate to deflect attention from the real issues of this country, namely: that thousands upon thousands of people in this country are out of work; and that lives and futures of thousands upon thousands of young people are daily being destroyed because of the economic management of this country that has been oversighted by the Prime Minister when he was its Treasurer. In the most cynical way he has sought to deflect attention from the real issues to an issue of importance - no doubt the national flag is an issue of importance but it is not an issue in relation to which the community of this country is calling for change.
It is interesting to note that when the Prime Minister talks about changing the flag he does not address the Australian community but goes off to Papua New Guinea, Indonesia and places outside this country and in the most cavalier way indicates that the flag will be changed. That is political cynicism of the highest order. It is about time members of the community of this country recognised that they are all being tricked in a most cynical way by a Prime Minister who is desperately concerned that we might direct some attention to the real problems of this country, namely, the failing economy of Australia. He wants to direct our attention away from the real problems in the hope that we will all start talking about the Australian flag. The Australian community is not stupid enough to fall for that sort of political gimmick; it is not stupid enough to fall for that crass political manipulation of the Australian environment. The facts are that this country is in dire economic straits as a result of the mismanagement of the economy by the Prime Minister. No amount of diversion on any other emotional topic that he might raise will deflect the attention of the Australian community from the fact that this country is in dire economic circumstances for one reason, and for one reason only: mismanagement of the economy. The person who mismanaged the economy is the present Prime Minister of this land. If he cannot manage the economy, how can he possibly believe he will ever get the flag right?
KIAMA DISTRICT HOSPITAL
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: My question without notice is addressed to the Minister for Health and Community Services. Is it a fact that the Government gave assurances to the people of Kiama that the Kiama District Hospital would not be closed down or sold, and yet it is now closed, locked up and has a lonely caretaker? Is it a further fact that the land for the Kiama District Hospital was originally purchased and the hospital constructed as a result of 50 per cent of the cost being provided by the Kiama community and the other 50 per cent by the Government? Will the Government give assurances that it will not sell the site, will urgently reopen the Kiama District Hospital, and accept the offer by the Kiama community, including all local doctors, to both finance and run the hospital through a local Kiama community hospital co-operative, in accordance with its privatisation policy?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: The Kiama District Hospital has been the subject of an ongoing issue in the Illawarra area. It has taken up much time and consideration of the hospital board. There has also been considerable community involvement. At all times the Minister for Health Services Management has given consideration to the best way of providing services for the people in that area. As I have told the House on a number of occasions, the Government is not about bricks and mortar; nor is it about sustaining a system. The Government is concerned about the provision of services and ensuring that an adequate level of services is available for the people of the State. The sustaining of a system for a system's sake is the wrong approach. The question the honourable member asked about the community's contribution to the construction of the hospital is a matter on which I do not have information available. Nor do I have available information about the proposed use of the site. However, I have read news clippings suggesting that local organisations are interested in acquiring the site for other health-related purposes. I shall refer those aspects of the honourable member's question to the Minister for Health Services Management and obtain a response as soon as possible.
GOOD SCHOOLS RESEARCH PROJECT
The Hon. D. F. MOPPETT: Will the Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs inform the House about the good schools research project? What is that project and how will it assist schools in New South Wales?
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: I thank the Hon. D. F. Moppett for his important question and continuing interest and involvement in education in New South Wales, particularly through the ministerial committee. The question provides me with the opportunity to inform the House of the success of education in New South Wales in having five clusters of schools become recipients of funding from the Federal Government because of their innovative and excellent programs which have allowed them to obtain that additional funding. Through that program and with the additional funding those schools will be able to become examples of exemplary teaching practices and procedures for the rest of Australia. I am extremely pleased that New South Wales has received almost $200,000 in Federal funding for those schools that will go towards this project. I am even more proud that the proposal put forward by New South Wales has been recognised as the lighthouse of exemplary school programs. It is commendable and will be of great benefit to the New South Wales education system that a variety of schools have been successful - a variety of schools in geographic terms and the nature of schools and programs that will be involved. I know one of those programs that will be of particular interest to the Hon. D. F. Moppett is that involving rural schools.
One of the innovative programs involves the Wagga Wagga, Junee and Tumut high schools which are co-operating with one another in developing links between schools, technical and further education and employers, with the fundamental aim of overcoming a real problem for young people generally, but especially for those in rural areas. Those schools are trying to develop more meaningful career paths for rural youth. They want to develop more flexible organisational structures that will give students greater access to technical and further education and its resources, and hence broaden subject choices, and hopefully further student career options. Not only country schools have been recognised as being exemplary. I am particularly pleased that national recognition has been given to technology high schools in the State. Two of those high schools have been included in the good schools research project. One is the Miller Technology High School. That was an existing school that was subsequently designated as a technology high school. The school is anxious to involve the local community in its
operations in the hope of making the school the hub of the community and broadening the decision-making powers so that the school will become an example of the best means of community consultation. The other technology high school included in the program is this State's flagship, and that is the high school at Cherrybrook. That is Australia's first school built and designed from the ground up as a technology high school. The work that the additional funding will allow to be carried out at Cherrybrook will assist that school and provide technological resources that can be spread to other schools in New South Wales.
The Wollumbin Education Resource Centre will be included in the good schools project. The other successful group of schools will be of particular interest to those who are concerned about the needs of western Sydney. I know that many of my colleagues, particularly the Hon. Dr Marlene Goldsmith, take a keen interest in education in western Sydney. The Liverpool cluster of 12 schools has been successful and been given a little more than $46,000 in additional funds. Those schools are providing education right across the spectrum from kindergarten through to year 12 and their programs will place particular emphasis on the special needs of students from low socioeconomic backgrounds and examine how best to address their needs. I am particularly proud of the success of the bid that New South Wales schools have made. It is yet another recognition nationally that many of the programs and initiatives under way in New South Wales are in fact lighthouse and exemplary programs, not only within our State but for the nation. With this recognition has come an extra $200,000 of funding to further develop these programs and assist in the basic task of education in New South Wales, to ensure that we not only lead Australia but the world in education standards.
COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTRES
The Hon. R. D. DYER: I ask the Minister for Health and Community Services a question without notice. Has the Minister approved a plan to amalgamate three existing community health centres in New South Wales with the Department of Community Services by way of a pilot scheme? Is one of the community health centres proposed for inclusion in this pilot scheme located at Windale, where the Regional Director of Health has taken steps to evict a medical practitioner from the premises? What are the Government's reasons for these actions?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: I know of no proposals approved by me for the amalgamation of existing community health centres. As to the proposal raised by the Hon. R. D. Dyer of a problem at Windale, I have no knowledge of it but I will find out and provide the Hon. R. D. Dyer with an answer.
The Hon. BERYL EVANS: My question without notice is directed to you, Mr President. In view of the proposed challenge to the design of the Australian flag by the Prime Minister, will you give an assurance to this House that the present flags will continue to stand in this House?
The PRESIDENT: It is obviously not appropriate that I should enter into the controversy which surrounded the question asked by the Hon. J. M. Samios. Suffice to say that the national flag and the flag of the State of New South Wales, which adorn this Chamber, were placed here by my distinguished predecessor, the Hon. J. R. Johnson. I applauded his action at that time. Honorable members may be assured that these proud symbols of our nation and our State will remain in place whilst it is a matter of my
discretion and authority, not only within this Chamber but from the highest points of this building, where they fly day and night and where in my opinion they typify the motto of this State: orta recens quam pura nites, which interpreted means newly risen, how brightly shines.
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY: My question without notice is directed to you, Mr President. In view of the fact that there has recently been an outbreak of legionnaire's disease in the west of Sydney and that this has been traced to the inadequate cleaning of air-conditioning ducts in big shopping centres, can you, as President of this Chamber, assure the House that the cleaning of the air-conditioning system in this Parliament is regularly and adequately carried out in the manner prescribed, because many of us in the Chamber suffer from colds and viral infections in the winter and throat complaints, and some of us, like the Hon. Elaine Nile, suffer from asthma?
The PRESIDENT: I can assure honourable members that both I and my brother Presiding Officer, Speaker Rozzoli, check from time to time with the Building Services Manager that the cooling systems relating to the air-conditioning in this building are properly maintained. We are assured, and I have been assured as recently as today, that the cooling towers of Parliament House are cleaned in accordance with Australian standards and meet all requirements laid down by the law. There is a regular back-to-side cleaning program and the water is also analysed on a regular basis.
The Hon. I. M. MACDONALD: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Health and Community Services, representing the Minister for Housing. Can the Minister explain to the House why, despite several democratic decisions over 25 years by the Blue Mountains local community to reject fluoridation, the Government has decided to proceed with the addition of this chemical to the water supply? Will the Government halt this decision and conduct a democratic consultation with the local community before proceeding further?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: It is interesting that the Hon. I. M. Macdonald is concerned about the issue of fluoridation because the National Health and Medical Research Council, in a report on the effectiveness of water fluoridation, delivered its finding in June 1991 and recommended that the level of fluoridation of reticulated water be maintained at one part per million in accordance with climatic variation and that the taking of fluoride in this concentration does not appear to have adverse consequences for the health of the population. The Blue Mountains City Council was advised by the Water Board in 1980, when the board assumed control over water supplies, that water supplies would be fluoridated. The community was again advised in June 1990 that the water supply would be fluoridated on the completion of works on water supply plant at Greaves Creek and Cascade Dam. Neither the Blue Mountains City Council nor the community raised any objections to fluoridation with the Department of Health until final notification of the introduction of fluoridation, which commenced on 27th April this year.
The Water Board has been carrying out its mandate in line with Government policy and this water supply is the last one under the Water Board's control to be fluoridated. Though fluoridation of the Sydney water supply has been in place since 1964, some communities within New South Wales have been resisting its introduction notwithstanding the very clear health benefits which are to be derived by the general
community as a result of fluoridation. Notwithstanding that there are minority groups within the State which seek to take an alternative viewpoint, the question of fluoridation is one which is generally accepted throughout the community, one which is clearly accepted within the medical community as beneficial to the health of the community and one which is therefore supported by the Government and certainly supported by me.
JOINT SECONDARY SCHOOLS-TAFE CLASS FEES
The Hon. B. H. VAUGHAN: My question without notice is to the Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs. Why does the State pay the fees for secondary students who attend government schools to attend joint secondary school TAFE classes, but students who attend non-government schools are required to pay their own fees?
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: I thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for his question. The joint school TAFE initiative is one of the more important and successful initiatives of the Government. Despite the administrative difficulties between TAFE and the Department of School Education and, in my view, some of the cumbersome administrative arrangements that are necessary to get two government departments to co-operate in the delivery of a joint service from one sector to another, it has been a remarkably popular and successful program. However, in the functioning of that program the courses are accredited by TAFE and provided to schools in New South Wales, both government and non-government, on a fee for service basis. That is to say, in simple terms, that TAFE quite properly charges for the delivery of services. Those services are charged to the Department of School Education, which allocates funds from its budget to pay for our students to attend and participate in those courses. In most things to do with human services, whether education, health, public transport or community services, demand often exceeds available funds. Such is the case with the joint school-TAFE program though, from memory, we have an increase of the order of 15 per cent in the budgetary allocation of fees to TAFE so that our public school students can participate in those courses.
The same principle applies to the non-government sector, that if TAFE stands ready, willing and capable to present its courses to children in the non-government sector, whether that happens to be in independent schools or in the Catholic sector, it is on precisely the same basis that those courses are available to public schools and their students, that is, on a fee for service basis. If any school, whether a Catholic school or a school from the independent system, wishes to participate in a joint school-TAFE course, it must pay fees to TAFE. One could argue with TAFE, as no doubt my department does and other schools do, about the fees charged. But it would be extraordinary if the Deputy Leader of the Opposition were suggesting that I should take money from the Department of School Education and, hence, from public schools, and allocate those funds to the non-government school sector - presumably in excess of the 25 per cent of the cost of educating a child in a government school and that is already a record financial commitment to non-government schools. It would be extraordinary if he were asking me to deny public schoolchildren funding that would be available to them for these courses by transferring that funding to non-government schools, cross-subsidise them so that they can pay TAFE. Though I have the greatest support for parental choice and great admiration for many of our Catholic and non-government schools, I am somewhat startled at the proposition of the honourable member, particularly as he is a representative of the Australian Labor Party, which has not had a history of support, certainly not to the degree the coalition parties have, for non-government schools. I look forward to the inclusion of this exciting and innovative financial cross-subsidy development that I presume is now to be included in the Labor Party's education policy.
The PRESIDENT: Order! If honourable members will cease interjecting, I will give the call.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: I wish to ask the Leader of the Government in this House, representing the Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Ethnic Affairs, and the Attorney General, Minister for Consumer Affairs and Minister for Arts, a question without notice. Is the Minister aware that the Western Australian Parliament will give private citizens the right of reply to allegations made against them in Parliament? Will the New South Wales Government look at this important question of the possibility of giving private citizens the same right in New South Wales?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: I take on board the question asked by the honourable member. I believe she would be gracious enough to accept that the Greiner Government has been a very open government and has introduced a range of measures that have produced a more open and honest form of government. I mention the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the freedom of information legislation as two very significant examples of that process. The suggestion contained in the question would clearly be an addition to that type of process. Personally I see some merit in the suggestion and I will refer the question to the responsible Ministers for reply.
The Hon. ELAINE NILE: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Health and Community Services. When was the Department of Health first aware of the recent outbreak of Legionnaire's disease in the western suburbs of Sydney? When was the department aware that the disease had reached epidemic proportions? When was the public made aware of the fact? What is the procedure to be taken at the outbreak of this disease in view of a media report that stated that air-conditioning cleaning units had been flushed out, thus making the taking of samples of bacteria impossible? Will there be compensation for the loss of life if it is shown that the Government is responsible?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: I thank the honourable member for her question. I think I speak on behalf of all honourable members when I extend deepest sympathy to those who have lost relatives as a result of the recent outbreak of Legionnaire's disease. It is quite understandable that family members are seeking answers to why their loved ones died. It is quite understandable that some perhaps wish to blame someone for a death that was relatively sudden. First I should like to point out that Legionnaire's disease is still an extremely rare and somewhat mysterious disease. Scientists around the world are still trying to gather more information about what causes it and what can be done to try to prevent it. I have the utmost confidence in the Department of Health and the public health officers who are handling this issue. I believe they acted promptly, as soon as the disease was notified. However, as I have said, this is still an extremely rare and relatively mysterious disease. The Minister for Health Services Management has asked for a detailed report from his department. If an examination of how this issue was handled suggests that any improvements can be made in methods of detection or in enforcement of regulations, that will be done.
The latest information from the chief health officer is that a major source of infection has been identified with almost 40 per cent of confirmed or suspected cases having visited the site. The site has been located in the central business district of Fairfield. Though it is believed to be the major source, it is not necessarily the only
source and investigations into other possible sources continue. Preliminary results of water tests taken in this area of Fairfield indicate legionella organisms at hazardous levels. Definitive results will be available in the next few days, but the area is now safe. No new cases have been reported overnight in southwestern Sydney. Four people have died from the disease with an additional death from an unrelated strain of the disease. There have been 20 confirmed cases and 37 possible cases. All the confirmed cases and 28 of the possible cases have been hospitalised in southwestern Sydney. Because of the incubation period of the disease the chief health officer is confident that no new infections are occurring. I can indicate that New South Wales has the toughest regulations of any State or Territory in Australia, and some of the toughest in the world, relating to the regulating of air-conditioning systems. No other State has such microbial control procedures in place as we have in this State.
I should indicate that 11,500 patients are admitted to New South Wales hospitals each year with pneumonia, and the overwhelming majority of these admissions are not due to legionella. Inpatient statistics show that six cases a month are treated for Legionnaire's disease. In other words the diagnosis for Legionnaire's disease is not always immediately apparent. Confirmation of Legionnaire's disease by growing the legionella organism from blood or sputum samples takes from three to 14 days. Blood tests do not produce definitive results until 10 days after the onset of symptoms. I wish to respect the confidentiality of patients in the New South Wales health system. In the case of one man, whose relatives have raised concerns, sputum was found to be positive for legionella on 19th April, the day of his admission to Liverpool Hospital. This was an isolated positive result and therefore not evidence of an epidemic. The first death from Legionnaire's disease occurred on 18th April but was not confirmed as involving legionella until 21st April. At about midday on 21st April the infection control officer at Fairfield hospital notified the area's public health unit that two cases, including the particular case to which I referred, had been confirmed.
The public health unit then began follow-up procedures. At approximately 2 p.m. the next day, 22nd April, the acting general manager of Fairfield hospital advised the deputy chief executive officer of the area that there was concern at the high number - at that time 17 - of atypical pneumonia cases at Fairfield hospital. This was the first evidence of a possible epidemic. The Chief Health Officer, Dr Morey, was immediately notified and a major investigation was launched. Once suspicions were confirmed Dr Morey began notifying the media at about 9 p.m. that evening. On 23rd April the Chief Health Officer issued a warning that people, especially those living in southwestern Sydney, experiencing symptoms of Legionnaire's disease should seek early medical attention. The following procedures were then instituted: detailed histories of confirmed or suspected patients were taken, including what public buildings they recently had visited; samples were taken from water cooling systems and fountains in the Fairfield, Liverpool, Campbelltown and Camden districts; the department and local council officers asked for all water cooled air-conditioning equipment in the southwest of Sydney, not serviced in the previous month, to be shut down, cleaned and disinfected immediately. This goes beyond Department of Health regulations, which require monthly inspections by the occupier or maintenance contractor, all cooling towers to be cleaned every three months, and local councils to maintain a register of all plants likely to harbour the legionella bacteria.
Department of Health environmental health officers also inspect the plants. It may be that all the sources of the bacteria will not be identified because the swift move to clean all likely sources of contamination means the source of the bacteria may have been removed. It was considered much more important to ensure that a risk to health
was quickly removed than to allow this threat to continue while tests were conducted to positively identify the source. Local councils and the new Public Health Act, which came into force in November last year, play an important role in the code of practice for the control of Legionnaire's disease. Councils will be required to have registers of all cooling towers in their areas complete by next month. This is a six-month period which is reasonable given the size of the task. There has been some suggestion that there was some delay which could have been averted. I am staggered by the opportunism pursued by the honourable member for Cabramatta and by the shadow minister for health, who would seek to plan a further debate on the issue. I am more than pleased to stack up what this Government has done to completely overhaul public health laws against anything done by the previous Government during its period of administration. Before this Government came into office the previous Labor Government was content to rely on the Public Health Act 1902, which was a hotchpotch of outdated and unwieldy regulations. There was an antiquated notification system which would never have detected an outbreak like this, and there were no public health units and no epidemiologists in the department.
All of that has been changed by this Government. This Government has established 14 public health units, upon which it spends more than $4 million a year, appointed epidemiologists with international qualifications, and embarked upon a massive consultation and reform process with all interested parties which led to the new Public Health Act. This was a massive task. In fact, it was considerably delayed because in the spirit of bipartisanship we showed the draft to the shadow minister for health and he argued that there should be fewer notifiable diseases than those advocated by us and introduced by us. That actually shows the standards, if allowed, that would be adopted by the shadow health minister in this area.
A legionella advisory committee was established and it consulted with a wide range of medical experts and industrial groups to draw up a code of practice. That is the code that is now in place and has been operating. Seminars have been held around the State and are still being held for local government, owner-occupiers and other involved parties on how to use the legislation to ensure that legionella is minimised. It cannot, one would expect, be completely eliminated, but the impact of it can be minimised. Like many other public health issues, we must rely upon education and self-regulation, backed by spot checks and fines, or the system will just not work. It will be physically impossible, without thousands of personnel, for the Department of Health to check every cooling tower in New South Wales on a three-monthly basis. Therefore it is appropriate that we adopt the approach we have taken.
The Hon. Ann Symonds asked why the issue should not have been referred to the Minister for Health Services Management for an answer. This is not his area of responsibility. It is a major issue of concern to the community. The honourable member has very properly raised it and I am in a position to provide that answer.
BASIC SKILLS TESTING
The Hon. PATRICIA FORSYTHE: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs. I refer the Minister to the article on the basic skills testing program that appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald this week and ask whether she is satisfied that the program is providing important information to teachers, parents and schools in New South Wales.
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: I also noticed the somewhat curious article in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday on the subject of basic skills testing in New South Wales. Indeed it is true that back in 1989, not so very long ago, when this Government announced it was introducing basic skills tests for year 3 and year 6, anyone would have thought it was "Apocalypse Now" for education. Howls of protest reverberated through the education community and dire predictions were made that these tests would be detrimental, and not only to our primary education curriculum. Outrageous claims were made that the tests would be quite harmful to individual students, who would feel stressed or whose education would be skewed because of a focus on these tests. Just a few short years later we should look at where we are with basic skills testing now, what the effect of basic skills testing has been, and what the community attitude now is to these tests. That is appropriate not only because of the curious article in the Sydney Morning Herald yesterday but because we are within a week of conducting the basic skills tests. It is interesting to note that despite the now somewhat weaker and muted calls from the federation, a true reactionary and conservative body, it feels it has to go through the motions and say it still opposes the test. The students, the good teachers out there - and that makes up the overwhelming majority of teachers - the community and, most important, the parents literally have voted with their feet in their ringing endorsement of basic skills testing. I can say that because despite the somewhat weak and ritualistic whinges about basic skills testing that comes from the federation, attendance at primary schools on basic skills testing days is higher than the average attendance on any other day of the year.
If people want to know what the community and the parents of New South Wales think about basic skills testing they have but to look at the attendance rate of year 3 and year 6 students on the day of the test. They are supported overwhelmingly by the community, as we now find when we look across Australia. America and the United Kingdom are grappling with how to say to teachers and parents and to the broader community, "This is what your child should be able to do and this is what your child can do at this particular level of development in the areas of literacy and numeracy". Other States and other nations, in particular the United States of America, are still grappling with this very question. While other States are grappling with this problem New South Wales has the planks of these reporting standards clearly in place. We have our basic skills test, our school certificate and our higher school certificate - the envy of so many other States and nations. This remarkably successful initiative in education represents the forward thinking of the Greiner Government. Our proven tests can only be improved upon and go from strength to strength at a very time when other States and nations have recognised the need for such tests but are still grappling, in semi-darkness, with ways to implement something that has been operating successfully in New South Wales since 1989.
The Hon. DOROTHY ISAKSEN: I direct my question without notice to the Minister for Health and Community Services. Have staff of the women's refuge Corries Place in Maitland been offered redundancy packages? Is this a plan to privatise women's refuges in New South Wales by employing managers and contract staff to run the refuges? Are the redundancy packages being financed by Federal funds provided for the supported accommodation assistance program?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: These refuges, which are run by independent organisations, have no association with the Government. It is a pity that the honourable member does not know more about the operation of such refuges. The State
Government, together with the Federal Government, provides funding assistance to a number of refuges under the supported accommodation assistance program. If the honourable member had bothered to take any notice of questions about refuges asked of me this year and last year she would be aware of what is happening. She would also have noted that last Friday the Hon. Peter Staples and I announced a $1.9 million additional funding package to assist many refuges to overcome difficulties that they are now facing as a result of the introduction of a new industrial award. The honourable member should be aware also that on a number of occasions I have indicated that, as a result of the impact of that award, no refuge need close unless it wishes to do so. I am committed to keeping these refuges operating, if that is their wish. At the same time, refuges must be prepared to recognise the need to restructure their operations, if that becomes necessary.
The honourable member should be aware - and I would like the House to be aware - that as a result of preliminary work that is being carried out on the implications and cost of that award to refuges in this State, the New South Wales Government might have to find an additional $8 million to provide them with assistance to keep them operating. It is interesting to note that although $8 million may be made available, not one extra bed will be provided for the needy in this State. I am sure all honourable members expect that I should be concerned about that matter. I am concerned about it and that is why I have informed the refuges that they should look at how they are providing their services and they should seek to restructure those services to minimise costs. That will enable me to minimise the impact of this award across the State and to expand services where I can.
The honourable member should be aware that this year the Federal Government allocated funds to New South Wales for the expansion of refuge services. The Federal Government has indicated that, because of the seriousness of the problem, those funds should now be made available to meet the impact of the award rather than to expand services. This funding of services applies not only to refuges. It is likely that I will have to find an additional $20 million to meet the award's impact on non-government organisations; otherwise there will be a significant reduction in their services. The honourable member, who is reasonable and rational in this regard, would appreciate that all refuges will have to look at ways in which to deliver more efficient services in order to reduce the impact of the award. I am sure we are all committed to meeting the needs of the community in this regard but we must also recognise that we must be flexible in the approach taken to keeping these services going, meeting community needs and minimising the significant cost of the award.
MINISTRY OF HEALTH AND COMMUNITY SERVICES
The Hon. Dr MARLENE GOLDSMITH: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Health and Community Services. I read with interest of the establishment of a social policy unit within the new Ministry of Health and Community Services. Who will be the director of this new unit and what will be the role of the unit?
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: I thank the Hon. Dr Marlene Goldsmith for her question and for the interest she has shown in this area. Honourable members will be aware that earlier this year I announced the establishment of a Ministry of Health and Community Services. The ministry, which will report directly to me, is designed to provide strategic policy development, both within health policy and social policy. The ministry will comprise the Office of Health Policy and a new social policy unit. The role of the social policy unit will be that of an advocate. Its role will be to co-ordinate,
develop and implement human services policies across the agencies of government. It will address itself to access and equity issues for individuals, in particular the disadvantaged. I am pleased to advise the House that only last week the Prime Minister announced the establishment of a social policy unit to provide similar advice to his Government.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: He would want to. Look at the problems they have out there.
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: It is about time the Federal Government recognised those problems. I am pleased to announce to the House the appointment of Ms Jane Schwager as director of the social policy unit. Her appointment now completes the structure of the ministry. In her position she will oversee the Office on Ageing and the Office on Disability, both of which have operated and will continue to operate as discrete units within the social policy unit. Ms Schwager has an impressive background both within the public sector and as a private consultant specialising in the evaluation of services and the restructuring of organisations and programs. She has a strong background in all aspects of community welfare, particularly the co-ordination of programs and services for youths and children. She has also conducted a number of planning and training sessions for a range of community organisations. The social policy unit is an important component in achieving the Greiner Government's "Facing the World" vision. It represents one of the first attempts by a government to address social policy issues right across government.
CASTLECRAG INFANTS SCHOOL
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: My question without notice is directed to the Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs. As the picket at Castlecrag Infants School has probably reached a world record for duration will the Minister negotiate to reopen the school or give it and its grounds to the council to administer as a community centre?
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: The future of Castlecrag Infants School has been made quite clear in this House on a number of occasions, not only by me but by other honourable members. The Hon. R. S. L. Jones, who was an active participant in debate at the time, would remember that during the passage of the Education Reform Bill he and others sought and were granted an assurance by this Government and by the then Minister for Education. I gave that assurance in this House on behalf of the department. It was the Hon. R. S. L. Jones, helping the SOS Castlecrag people, who asked for an assurance from this Government that the school would be used for educational purposes. He now wants to give it away. On some occasions the honourable member has a selective and short memory.
The PRESIDENT: Order! I cannot hear the Minister.
The Hon. VIRGINIA CHADWICK: The other thing the Hon. R. S. L. Jones should remember, because I have repeated it on a number of occasions in this House, is that in trying to fulfil the undertaking I gave I looked for an educational purpose for Castlecrag school and I discovered that the greatest educational need on the lower North Shore was the provision of services for children with special needs and learning difficulties. Therefore, I announced, some time ago now - and I have reannounced it every time the Hon. R. S. L. Jones raises this issue - that I intend, and it is my desire, to use that school as a school for children with learning difficulties. I have used the
example of one school on the lower North Shore that the last time I checked had 90 children on a waiting list looking for special remedial services from such a school. But the Government is not able to use the Castlecrag school because such is the nature of the SOS Castlecrag group and its care for its local community - a group that, for reasons quite unclear to me, the Hon. R. S. L. Jones has clutched to his bosom as some sort of cause - that it has put on a green ban so that I cannot get workmen into the school to fix it up so that the children on the lower North Shore who have learning difficulties can get assistance. I take the honourable member at his word. I have no intention of giving up or giving away the school. It is one thing to be full of outrage about the closure of school, but the Hon. R.S.L. Jones has suggested it be given away. If the honourable member is suggesting that the local council or another group wants to buy the school, I am more than happy to take him up on his offer.
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: In view of the hour, I suggest that further questions be put on notice.
EASTLAKES COMMUNITY CENTRE CLOSURE
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: On 20th March the Hon. J. Kaldis asked me a question without notice regarding the Eastlakes Community Centre and Bowling Club and on 26th March I provided an answer to that question. However, to clarify the situation, the Minister for Transport has provided me with the following advice:
The proposed auction of the property, which was to take place in April, has been postponed in order to allow greater consultation between the parties.
Both the Eastlakes Bowling Club and Botany Council, lessees of the community centre, have been offered further time to discuss their options with a view to possible purchase of the site at market rates.
It is important to recognise that the State Transit Authority has an obligation to the New South Wales taxpayers to dispose of surplus assets, such as the Eastlakes site, and divest itself of non-commercial property outside its operating responsibilities. Income is used to the benefit of the people of this State - to fund new capital investment and offset operating costs.
In any event, if the Eastlakes site were sold this would not mean that the community centre must close. Under previous proposals, the site was to be auctioned within its current zoning which limits its use to the current type of application. There was, and is now, a real opportunity for the council which operates the centre to buy the land.
The Government's commitment to the groups which currently use Eastlakes Community Centre and the bowling club on the site is clearly shown by the decision to postpone the proposed auction in order to allow talks with the lessees on possible purchase of the property.
LAKE COWAL WORLD HERITAGE LISTING AND DUCK SHOOTING
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD: On 17th March the Hon. R. S. L. Jones asked me a question regarding Lake Cowal World Heritage listing. The Minister for the Environment has informed me that Lake Cowal has never been considered for World Heritage listing. However, I am aware that a part of Lake Cowal has been listed in the register of National Estate by the Heritage Commission. One hundred and seventy-two species of birds recorded for Lake Cowal is a reasonable number but is not exceptionally high when compared with some other localities. A small number of protected birds were shot on Lake Cowal during the opening weekend of the duck season last year. Lake Cowal is one of the two key duck shooting areas in New South Wales. Virtually all the land surrounding the lake is private property - Crown lease - requiring permission from
the owner before hunters can gain entry to the foreshores. The declaration of an open season normally covers the entire State. However, the National Parks and Wildlife Service surveys key hunting areas prior to the open season to ensure significant numbers of threatened and endangered species are not present. This year the second stage of Tullakool Salt Works was closed because of a significant accumulation of freckled duck. However at Lake Cowal closure was not considered to be necessary.
CENSURE OF GOVERNMENT
Debate resumed from an earlier hour.
The Hon. B. H. VAUGHAN (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) [5.5]: The Parliament of New South Wales is in a situation today about which Edmund Burke would have said, "The greater the power, the more dangerous the abuse". The abuse occurred in this matter when the Premier made a deliberate decision to appoint Dr Metherell to the senior executive service position. The Premier must have realised that this appointment was a matter of unprecedented sensitivity. He approved of this appointment without recourse to his Cabinet. He ignored his Cabinet. He was quoted as saying that he was "afraid of a leak from Cabinet". He does not trust his Cabinet. It follows, obviously, that there is no Cabinet confidentiality or solidarity in the Greiner-Murray Government when it comes to Dr Metherell. I can say about the President - and I hope one day I can say the same about you, Mr Deputy-President, but it takes time to understand - that he is a Parliament man; and the President in particular, and other honourable members, have been in this House for a long time. When all this is over and done with I intend to engage the President in conversation about this matter, on a strictly without prejudice basis, of course. The President must have been appalled these last days to witness the deliberate spoliation of the principles of what I have referred to before in the House as our High Court of Parliament. The Metherell affair is all about a member of the other place seeking an inducement to resign his seat. I have no doubt, though doubt has been cast, that it was Dr Metherell who sought out the offeror. He sought an inducement to resign his seat for a benefit. I contend that he could well be guilty of bribery at common law. There will be some opinions about the place in the near future which might well confirm my suspicion in that area. It must seem like a dream to the Government; it must seem like a nightmare.
The Hon. J. R. Johnson: It is a dream for the Opposition.
The Hon. B. H. VAUGHAN: As has been rightly pointed out, we cannot believe it.
The Hon. J. R. Johnson: One would think the Minister for Police and Emergency Services organised it because it has gone so badly.
The Hon. B. H. VAUGHAN: He was not here, but I would like to have been a fly on the wall when the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, who once described himself in the House as the Graham Richardson of the Liberal Party -
The Hon. E. P. Pickering: I did not. I do not recall that.
The Hon. B. H. VAUGHAN: I have a note of that. He called himself the Graham Richardson of the Liberal Party. I shall ask him years from now to have a private conversation with me about the Metherell affair, because I would certainly like
to know what he thinks about it. I have reminded the Minister for Police and Emergency Services before how in those years of 1986 and 1987 he enjoyed so much describing the Labor Party as a rabble. I should like to know exactly what he thinks about his own Government during these past few days. If ever there was a rabble they are sitting on the opposite side of this House and 46 of them are in the other place. This is a rabble, a tatterdemalion group of people who do not know whether they are Arthur or Martha. The sorry part about this is that these tatterdemalion events have shocked the community of New South Wales. The people have been shocked by the chaotic handling of the Metherell affair. The community is shocked also about the assault which these events have made upon the parliamentary institution, and it is insulted by these events of the past few days. We have been told by the Premier himself that he knew nothing about the affair; he knew nothing about the job offer and he knew nothing about a press release issued in his name that clearly indicated that he in fact offered Metherell a job. However, if the Premier knows nothing about it on one day and later he says he did know something, and later still says that he knows nothing again, how can we believe him, the insecure Premier? Honourable members should remember the absolute parsonical attitude he exhibited in those dying days of 1987. He was going to be like the Angel Gabriel when he got into government in the House.
The Hon. J. R. Johnson: Fallen angel.
The Hon. B. H. VAUGHAN: He is a fallen angel now. In 1983, with the assistance of Gary Sturgess, the Premier, then Leader of the Opposition, ran and ran hard on the issue of corruption. We were led to believe that all that Premier Wran did was corrupt. In 1983 the Leader of the Opposition, the Hon. Nick Greiner, moved a censure motion against Mr Wran and argued that Mr Wran deserved to be censured because he should have known that he, Wran, was guilty of misleading Parliament. The then Leader of the Opposition and his conservative cohorts called Mr Wran a liar; in fact they called all Labor Party members liars at the time. But the Metherell case clearly shows the community that the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Greiner, was the liar in that case. He lied in his censure motion against Mr Wran. I ask the people of New South Wales: how can we trust a man who so wilfully and carefully lies to parliament and to the good people of New South Wales? But then again, of course, Mr Greiner, the Premier, is a conservative. We are expected to believe that the Ministers support the Premier 100 per cent - the Hon. E. P. Pickering and the Hon. Virginia Chadwick. I should like to know what the Hon. Virginia Chadwick thinks about it all. The Ministers are supposed to support the Premier 100 per cent. If one could make an analogy, who would want to have swapped places with the captain of the Titanic after it hit the iceberg? Not very many people will want to step into the shoes of the Hon. Nick Greiner, though I will nominate one at a later date and I will guarantee he steps into the Premier's shoes. No one in this House believes that the Attorney General supports his leader and, if he does, why should he demonstrate such a lack of support in his pithy comments? His comments were absolutely pithy - almost tantamount to the remarks Sinclair made about poor old Tim Fischer yesterday.
No member on this side of the House believes that the Minister for Police and Emergency Services supports the Premier. The Minister did not charge back from his sojourn in the United Kingdom. He did not come back earlier; he did not think it was a crisis. I cannot believe that. There must have been another reason - something more byzantine than I can guess at the present time. All honourable members will well remember when Dr Metherell resigned from the Liberal Party. He explicitly said in his letter of resignation that he could no longer work with a government that was so conservative. All honourable members will remember how the Premier responded. He
imputed that Dr Metherell was clinically insane. Now we are expected to believe that both are mates. The Premier has offered his old mate a job. I contend they must both be clinically insane. Along with the lying, this is the crux of the issue; it is the crux of this censure motion. The Premier arrogantly - and that seems to be his normal approach to life - believes that the people of this State should accept a political bribe; should accept that the conservatives can buy people off; should accept that Parliament and democracy can be usurped for 30 pieces of silver - in this case, $110,000. I wonder what the man in the street thinks about this. Mr Deputy President, you know what the man in the street thinks about all of this. We condemn the Premier for openly abusing the trust that the people of New South Wales reposed in him. He told us all that there would no longer be jobs for the boys. Now his office has become the CES office for the Liberal Party. The Premier has brought Parliament and the premiership into disrepute and I condemn him personally for doing that.
The facts are clear. There is no dispute that the Premier has deceived the electors over this issue. The Premier thought he was clever but he was only being a conservative. When will the conservatives ever learn that they cannot walk over people and that they cannot use people as doormats on which to wipe their feet? Why should the Premier be surprised that Parliament and the people of New South Wales want to censure him? What right has the Premier to be so arrogant and smug? As one letter to the Sydney Morning Herald states, "This time however, Mr Greiner and Dr Metherell have gone too far". The Australian Labor Party, on behalf of the undoubted majority of people in New South Wales, believes that Mr Greiner and Mr Moore should stand down until the determination of the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry. We are now seeing a government with the death rattle. Honourable members opposite may wish to defend the Premier but they too will go down with that sinking ship; it is only a matter of time. The most experienced, the most decisive and incisive political correspondent said something about Premier Greiner on Anzac Day last week. He could have expanded the quotation, of which I am sure all honourable members will be aware. He said:
. . . and in New South Wales Nick Greiner continues to demonstrate how crashingly ordinary, not to mention politically dumb, he always was.
I think Ramsay was going too far, only in so far as he should have said that about all of those opposite. They are crashingly ordinary and so politically dumb that they find themselves now on the brink of a precipice. I say that they should resign and let us have an election.
The Hon. R. D. DYER [5.20]: The motion has three elements: the first seeks to censure the Government; the second calls upon the Premier and the Minister for the Environment to stand aside from their positions pending the conclusion of the inquiry by the Independent Commission Against Corruption; and the third calls on the Government to exercise the Crown's undoubted prerogative to terminate Dr Metherell's appointment without compensation. It can be said with little doubt that this is a squalid, grubby appointment by a Government that has become tarnished following the passage of only a few years. I well remember the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, for whom I have considerable regard, referring in past years to what he described as the stench of corruption emanating from the Wran Government. I have heard the Minister say that on many occasions.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering: You sure have, and for good reason.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: The Minister says "for good reason". No inquiry gave any support to that claim of a stench of corruption emanating from the Wran Government.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering: You would not have any inquiry.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: The Minister says there was no inquiry. There were a number of inquiries. In particular I refer to the Street royal commission which caused the then Premier, the Hon. Neville Wran, to stand aside. How the Minister can suggest that there was no inquiry in regard to that Government is beyond my understanding. Not only was there an inquiry - and a searching one at that - but the then Premier came out of that inquiry exonerated by Sir Laurence Street. On the one hand the Minister for Police and Emergency Services says that there were no inquiries, and on the other he muttered something a moment ago about there being a number of inquiries. He cannot have it both ways. I have made reference to the claim of the Leader of the Government in this House in past years, to which he still adheres, that a stench of corruption emanated from the former Government.
The DEPUTY-PRESIDENT (The Hon. D. J. Gay): Order! The Hon. J. R. Johnson should add his name to the list of speakers in this debate if he wishes to contribute to it.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: I suggest that there is an undoubted stench of corruption emanating from this Government, of which the Metherell appointment is the most recent example. The Minister for Police and Emergency Services can make as many pained gestures and utter as many pained sounds as he wishes, but the fact is that this is a squalid, grubby appointment, made by a Government that has become tarnished very quickly.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering: The honourable member is not using the word "corrupt".
The Hon. R. D. DYER: I know what the word corrupt means, as does the Minister. If ever there was a corrupt, squalid, grubby appointment, this has to be it. When one has regard to the circumstances of this appointment and the environment in which it was made, it can be described as nothing other than a corrupt appointment. When one has regard to the merit principle, one wonders where merit came into the Metherell appointment. What consideration was given by the Government to the merits of the position that was created and the merits of the person being considered for that position? What procedures were followed in accordance with the public service practice regarding the advertising of the position? We have had different accounts from the Government about that. It was said that there was no advertisement, but suddenly an advertisement was found, though it was perfunctory in nature. One must ask oneself: what is the position regarding the selection process? When and in what fashion was that carried out? Who constituted the selection panel?
Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile: The ICAC will tell us.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile is correct: the Independent Commission Against Corruption undoubtedly will determine these facts and tell us exactly what happened and the part that was played by all the actors in this pageant, if one can dignify the whole process with that term. I am delighted that at least the Government has had the good sense to agree to refer the matter to the Independent
Commission Against Corruption. That organisation has the capacity to determine the facts fairly quickly. I express the view that undoubtedly those proceedings should be held in public. The commission is not bound to have its proceedings heard in public, but in this case it is my belief that the commission will proceed in public. To close the proceedings would be to cloak something that really needs to be aired. The first part of the motion seeks to censure the Government over the appointment of Dr Metherell to the senior executive service. When one considers the chronology of Dr Metherell's membership of this Parliament since October last year, one discovers that a remarkable metamorphosis took place over a relatively brief period. For example, only on 2nd October last year Dr Metherell chose to resign from the parliamentary Liberal Party. He remained as the Independent member for Davidson. At the time of his resignation he criticised the Greiner Government's poor record on the environment, its uncaring policies and, ironically, its waste on the senior executive service that he is now joining.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: The honourable member is repeating what silly old Egan keeps saying.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti is prone to interject, and to do so inadvisedly. He knows, as does every honourable member, that only as recently as 2nd October last year Dr Metherell, when assigning reasons for his resignation from the Liberal Party, gave as one of those reasons the waste by the Greiner Government on the senior executive service. That is not a lie on the part of the Leader of the Opposition in this place, that is a fact.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: He also said that the Government was too right-winged for him. That could not be possible.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: I am not sure what Dr Metherell said about the Government being right-winged. As a matter of fact the Hon. Tim Moore once said that I was too right-winged to be a member of the Liberal Party, not that I have ever contemplated taking that course. I doubt that the Hon. Tim Moore should belong to the Liberal Party, let alone me. As my starting point I have taken Dr Metherell's resignation in October 1991. On 12th December last year Dr Metherell supported the Labor Party's Endangered Fauna (Interim Protection) Bill. On 18th January this year there was the by-election for The Entrance, which saw the numbers in the Legislative Assembly become 47 all. That is the true starting point for what happened later this year regarding Dr Metherell. During February of this year - and no doubt the Independent Commission Against Corruption will be able to probe this matter and fix the time more accurately than I - Dr Metherell made an approach to rejoin the Liberal Party. There was press and other media speculation as to that approach. The Premier said that Dr Metherell's rejoining of the Liberal Party would never happen. It was also during February this year that Dr Metherell approached the Government about a job vacancy at the Environment Planning Authority.
On 14th March this year the Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Bill had its second reading. On 6th March Dr Metherell met with the State Leader of the Opposition regarding the bill to which I have just referred, which was continuing its passage through this Parliament, to seek support for his wilderness amendment. On that same day, some time between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m., Dr Metherell met with the Minister for the Environment in the Minister's office and Mr Moore offered Dr Metherell a compromise on the wilderness matter if Dr Metherell would withdraw the amendment negotiated with the State Leader of the Opposition. It is interesting to note that Mr Moore's compromise was similar or perhaps even identical to the wilderness amendments moved by the
Government on 10th March this year. At that stage, that is on 6th March, Dr Metherell squarely rejected Mr Moore's proposals. Yet four days later, on 10th March, he unreservedly accepted them and voted for them. What occurred in the intervening four days to change Dr Metherell's mind so decisively? There was an about-face. Dr Metherell was previously hostile to the Government's legislation and suddenly, quite unexpectedly, he supported the Government's legislation. The environment movement was so certain of Dr Metherell's stance on that legislation that it did not even bother to lobby him.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: On a point of order. The honourable member is quoting debate in another place on a bill which is not under discussion in this Chamber. In accordance with Standing Order 76 I ask that he be directed to desist.
The Hon. R. D. Dyer: On the point of order. I have not quoted from any debate, I am referring to a chronology of events which clearly are relevant to the censure motion before the House. A censure motion being one of the most serious things that a Government can face, short of a motion of no confidence, there ought to be wide-ranging debate on a censure motion. It is relevant, appropriate and proper for any member in the course of such a debate to refer to the background and the chronology regarding the matter. The motion before the House does seek to censure the Government over the appointment of Dr Metherell to the senior executive service. I have been outlining the chronology leading up to Dr Metherell's changed vote in another place and his subsequent appointment to the senior executive service. What I am saying is relevant and in order in terms of this censure debate.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: Further to the point of order. Standing Order 76 provides:
No member shall quote any Debate in either House of the same Session . . . except by the indulgence of the House for personal explanation.
As the honourable member is not making a personal explanation and is quoting from irrelevant debate, not debate on a bill under discussion at the moment, he should not be quoting.
The PRESIDENT: Order! I have heard adequate submission on this matter. The standing order refers to quoting verbatim from the debate in the other House. This has been ruled upon on many occasions. There is no point of order.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: I do not want to labour the point; I merely illustrate that Dr Metherell did make an undoubted about-face in casting that vote on the environmental legislation on 10th March this year. One would think that about-face would require a considerable degree of explanation. Why was it that Dr Metherell changed his known stance - perhaps one could say his notorious stance - within a period of four days on such a crucial piece of legislation? In the courts there is a doctrine or a principle known as the appearance of bias; that is, a judicial officer is required to disqualify himself from hearing a particular matter, not only if there is actual bias - although he would undoubtedly disqualify himself in that event - but if there is a mere appearance of bias. I would draw a parallel between that and what I would describe as the appearance of corruption. Clearly, the Independent Commission Against Corruption will find whether there was actual corruption or a tendency to corrupt conduct regarding the events to which I have just referred. At the very least there has been an appearance of corruption because the former member for Davidson, Dr Metherell, did change his vote very suddenly regarding the piece of legislation to which I have referred.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: Where is the evidence?
The Hon. R. D. DYER: I have just said that that matter will be inquired into by the Independent Commission Against Corruption. But, notwithstanding that that inquiry is pending, what I am putting to the House is that there is the appearance of corruption.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: The appearance that he changed his mind.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: I am saying that, to the extent that Dr Metherell changed his mind suddenly and without explanation, that creates an appearance of corruption.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: Appeared to change his mind.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: He did change his mind.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: What is the evidence that he changed his mind?
The Hon. R. D. DYER: Apparently the honourable member has not been listening to what I have been saying.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: I have been listening carefully.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: Perhaps I should retrace my steps and go through it all again.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: Do you have some quotes for me?
The PRESIDENT: Order! I would be obliged if the Hon. R. D. Dyer would proceed with his address to the House and if he and the Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti would not indulge in interlocutories across the Chamber.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: I will endeavour to adhere to that ruling, on the assumption that I am left in a degree of peace by the Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti. I do say that there is the appearance of corruption in regard to the changed stance of Dr Metherell. Dr Metherell, unexpectedly and without explanation, voted quite contrary to his known views on this particular piece of legislation - views he had held over a period of many years. I have already said to the House that the environment movement was so certain of Dr Metherell's known stance regarding the legislation in question that it failed to lobby him regarding it.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: He promoted the senior executive service first, then he turned around and bit it. Now he likes it again.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: As the interjections from the other side of the Chamber indicate, Dr Metherell has followed a rather circuitous course on many issues, without doubt. It makes this Government even more corrupt that, notwithstanding all those manifestations on the part of Dr Metherell, it is prepared to overlook those matters to secure a vacancy in another place by appointing Dr Metherell to the senior executive service.
The Hon. Virginia Chadwick: What would you have done in the circumstances?
The Hon. R. D. DYER: The Minister wants to know what I would have done.
The Hon. Virginia Chadwick: What would Senator Richardson have done under the circumstances?
The Hon. R. D. DYER: The Minister asked what I would have done. I would not have appointed Dr Metherell to a public office of this State, particularly having regard to his treachery to the political party to which he belonged.
The Hon. Virginia Chadwick: He does not belong to a political party.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: He does not belong to a political party now but I would have thought that the Minister would certainly agree with me that Dr Metherell did belong to the Liberal Party and held high office in that party and in the Government.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering: I recall that.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: The Minister for Police and Emergency Services seems to recall that and, notwithstanding that history, Dr Metherell saw fit to be disloyal to the Liberal Party. It was bad enough being disloyal to the Liberal Party, the party which had given this member virtually everything, to the extent of being a Minister of the Crown, the Minister for Education in the Greiner Government. Notwithstanding those benefits that accrued to Dr Metherell, he -
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: What about the prodigal son? What about the lesson of the prodigal son?
The Hon. R. D. DYER: It has not taken the honourable member long to start interjecting again. Notwithstanding Dr Metherell's history of treachery to the Liberal Party, the Government has seen fit to procure a vacancy in another place by appointing him to this office. It seems to me that that is something the Government ought not to have done, not only on political grounds but on grounds of public decency. I will not excite the attention of the President by referring to the particular interjection, but the suggestion was made that the prodigal son has something to do with this and that the Government was saying, "All is forgiven, come home son, we will show you Christian charity". If I thought that was what was happening, I would support the Government. If I thought the Government was showing Christian charity to Dr Metherell, that might be something that was praiseworthy.
The Hon. Franca Arena: That is what Malcolm Mackerras said in the newspaper this morning. He said that they turned the other cheek because they are Christians.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: Anyone who would believe that the Greiner Government was turning the other cheek and was showing Christian charity to Dr Metherell would believe anything.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: I believe in the Bible.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: It is not a question of believing in the Bible. It is a question of believing in the motives of the Greiner Government. Even taking into account my known predilection for charity, I still cannot credit that the Greiner Government was acting out of charitable motives in appointing Dr Metherell to the senior
executive service. The motives that the Greiner Government clearly had in mind were to advantage itself by procuring a vacancy in another place and winning the subsequent by-election. Everyone here knows that to be the fact and I am putting it to the House that the clear, unvarnished reason for the appointment of Dr Metherell to the senior executive service was to advantage the Government. It was prepared to set aside this man's appalling recent history of treachery to the Government and to appoint him to this vacancy so that it presumably could have some hope - and perhaps it is not a strong hope - of filling the vacancy at the subsequent by-election for the seat of Davidson. I pass over the question of the Metherell appointment because there is very little that can be said in addition to what I have said. On that point, the Metherell appointment is one that is without support. It is incapable of support. The motives of the Government are so blatant and corrupt as to be self-evident. The second leg of this motion calls upon both the Premier and the Minister for the Environment to stand aside from their posts until the conclusion of the inquiry by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering: The second and third legs.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: The Minister says the second and third legs. I will concede that point if he wants to assert there is a second leg and a third leg.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering: It makes a monster of the motion, with three legs.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: Let us say the motion has four legs - the censuring of the Government; the standing aside of the Premier; the standing aside of the Minister for the Environment; and, the fourth leg, to make the complete animal that the Minister has in mind, calling upon the Government to exercise the Crown's undoubted prerogative to terminate Dr Metherell's appointment without compensation. The Opposition is entirely justified in calling upon the Premier and the Minister for the Environment to stand aside. The Premier has taken a point of casuistry, almost to say that no particular allegation has been made against him and for that reason he does not need to stand aside. That is not the view he took when "The Big League" program was shown on television which led to the establishment of the Street royal commission on that occasion.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: There were allegations against Neville Wran directly.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: I compare the two on the basis that in both instances the Premier of the day was in some sense under inquiry.
The Hon. Virginia Chadwick: Inquiry into what?
The Hon. R. D. DYER: As the Hon. Virginia Chadwick well knows, the Independent Commission Against Corruption now has a reference from this House and no doubt shortly, if it has not already, will have a reference from the other place, and there will be an inquiry. I suggest to the House it is entirely reasonable to suppose that the Premier will come under inquiry during those proceedings.
The Hon. J. R. Johnson: As will the Leader of the Government in this House. He will get a guernsey because he knew about it.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: Whether or not the Minister for Police and Emergency Services gets a guernsey, is beside the point. Certainly the Hon. Tim Moore will get a guernsey, a vividly coloured guernsey at that, I would imagine. The Premier also will
receive a guernsey, and to that extent I am putting to the Houses that in all decency the Premier and the Minister for the Environment should be standing down during the currency of this inquiry.
The Hon. J. R. Johnson: If they were honourable men, they would stand down.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: Neville Wran was an honourable man; when he came under inquiry by the Street royal commission he stood aside from his office during the continuance of that inquiry.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: He was forced to.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: Mr Wran was not forced to stand aside; he chose to stand aside, and he did stand aside during the currency of the royal commission. I am putting to this House that it is equally honourable and equally appropriate for both the Premier, the Hon. Nick Greiner, and the Minister for the Environment, the Hon. Tim Moore, to stand aside during the currency of the forthcoming ICAC inquiry when they undoubtedly, as we all know, will appear as witnesses and their actions, the meetings they had, the discussions they had with each other and with Dr Metherell will come out in evidence. There will be headlines day after day regarding those matters. I suggest not only is it appropriate and proper for the Premier and the Minister for the Environment to stand aside but they will find it difficult during the currency of the inquiry by the ICAC to carry out their normal ministerial functions and the functions of the Premier unless they do in fact stand aside and allow the Deputy Premier to act for the Premier and another Minister to act for the Minister for the Environment. The inquiry to which I am referring in all probability will not take more than a few weeks. And, assuming after that time they are cleared - and that is a fairly large assumption - they can resume the offices from which they have stood aside.
The last part of the motion calls upon the Government to exercise the Crown's prerogative to terminate Dr Metherell's appointment without compensation. The Hon. J. W. Shaw has had something to say about that particular aspect in recent days; no doubt, having regard to his expertise in industrial law, he will have something further to say about that matter. The Crown does have the right to exercise its prerogative to terminate the services of any of its servants, and to do so without compensation, in this case. The Government really, in its own interests, ought to have grasped the nettle and done that in any event without advice from me or anyone else from the Opposition benches. But, surprisingly and perhaps inexplicably, the Government has not taken the obvious course open to it. The Opposition does put to the House that that is something that ought to happen, it ought to have happened in the past and it is an available course the Government can still resort to even at the present time and really ought to do that without further delay. The only other thing I would say is that this has been an extraordinary saga. The Greiner Government has not taken very long to become an unpopular government; it has not taken very long to become a government which is tainted with the appearance of corruption.
The Hon. J. R. Johnson: It is on the nose.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: It is very much on the nose, as the Hon. J. R. Johnson says. I suggest to the House that it is very much in its own interests that it should take the action referred to in the motion. I suggest that this Government is worthy of censure.
The Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti: The Government is very worthy.
The Hon. J. R. Johnson: The only thing it is very worthy of is censure.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: As the Hon. J. R. Johnson says, the Government is not worthy of anything else, it is worthy of censure. I go a step farther and say it is worthy of dismissal from office. The people of New South Wales will no doubt take that course at the first available opportunity, which might not be very far distant. I leave the House with the comforting thought that the people of New South Wales will not have to put up with this tottering Government for ever.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering: It will not go on forever, but at least till 1995.
The Hon. R. D. DYER: If the Government lasts until 1995 I shall be amazed. But in the event that it does survive for that long, I am sure the people of New South Wales will take the obvious course and consign coalition members to the Opposition benches, where they obviously need to renew themselves over the next 20 years or so because they have become tired of such a tainted, corrupt government which obviously deserves a very lengthy term in the wilderness.
The Hon. J. W. SHAW [5.58]: The Metherell affair is not only a grievous blow, indeed a mortal blow to this Government's political fortunes but also a scandal in terms of legality and in terms of proper administration of the public service. There are two inter-related aspects which ought to be borne in mind in criticising the Government's manoeuvres in this latest affair. First, there is clearly a conspiracy to misuse or bargain with public office, in other words senior members of the Government have banded together to work out a plan or a plot in order to offer a member of Parliament a senior position in the public service so as to induce that member to resign from Parliament. The Premier has made it expressly clear that the appointment of Dr Metherell would be to the benefit of his Government and he has justified that appointment on that basis, amongst others. The thinking of the Government is if you can induce an Independent MP to resign you have a prospect of winning a by-election and can advantage the position of the Government on the floor of the Legislative Assembly. It seems to me that that amounts to corrupt bargaining with public office.
The second and related aspect of the affair is that the public service and senior echelons of the public service have been perverted so as to provide an office or create a job for a member of Parliament whom the Government wants to exit from Parliament. The provisions of the Public Sector Management Act have been destroyed and flouted in the most blatant of ways. The ordinary procedures for appointment to the public service not only have been ignored; they have been deliberately disobeyed. I would argue that, although it is appropriate for this matter to be referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the publicly known facts justify censure of this Government on both these bases. It is appropriate that the key Ministers involved - Mr Greiner the Premier, and Mr Moore the Minister for the Environment - should stand aside pending the Independent Commission Against Corruption investigation. The investigation may prove useful but, on the acknowledged and indisputable circumstances, the Government is blameworthy and deserving of censure. I thought this was really conceded by the Premier. The Premier and Mr Moore have both apologised to the public. They have both admitted error. As I understand their statements, they have both admitted grievous error. Surely that of itself justifies censure in the sense of criticism by this House of what the Ministers have done.
It is really common ground that the Government has made a grievous error. Surely it follows logically that this House should express its view to the effect that the Ministers ought to be condemned for their involvement in this silly affair - this short-term
attempt to advantage the Government's political fortunes. The question of criminal culpability has been dealt with in advice given to the Opposition - advice which is quite sustainable on the acknowledged public facts. It does not really require any further inquiry to determine that there is a prima facie liability for conspiracy to act corruptly in relation to public office. I want to quote briefly from advice given to the Opposition where it was said:
Effectively the Government has bargained or promised a public office to obtain something it, from its leader's own admissions, clearly perceived to be a value. This is not analogous to cases of political patronage, of "jobs for the boys". In this case there is a unique feature of a quid pro quo clearly being sought by the Government. It is not legally permissible to derive political advantage by seducing an inconveniently elected member from his office and duty by offering him personal reward.
It can not be doubted that the appointment is of value to Dr. Metherell, nor that the prospect of a Liberal member in the seat is of value to the Government.
It can not be doubted that the appointment led Dr. Metherell to resign nor that the prospect of his resignation led the Government to promise and go to great lengths to secure to him the job.
Again, it can not be doubted that the appointment was clearly intended to influence Dr. Metherell to resign, nor that the prospect of his resignation was clearly intended to influence the Government to give him the SES appointment.
There is clearly material here on which a jury could find the transaction to be contrary to the known rules of honesty and integrity.
It is no coincidence that the resignation from the Parliament, the creation of the job, the appointment to office and the execution of the senior executive service contract all took place on one and the same day. These transactions, these affairs, clearly are all interrelated. They are all part of one sequence of events, one plan, one arrangement to do two things - to secure a vacancy for the Government which the Government thinks it can win by securing a Liberal member of Parliament in a by-election, and to provide a job for the person who is exiting from public office. It is clear, of course, that to offer a member of Parliament in the course of his or her office some inducement to vote in a particular way is bribery and corruption. The only question is whether an inducement for a person to exit from public office - an inducement for a person to leave a position in this Parliament - similarly is bribery and corruption. I would have thought it was clear, by parallel argument, that to offer a person some inducement, some pecuniary advantage, to get out of Parliament, similarly is an offence against the common law. This Government has descended to that sort of skulduggery in an entirely opportunistic and desperate effort to maintain its slender hold on government in this State.
The first major problem for the Government is that its activities amount to corruption. The second aspect - one which I have spent more time researching - is the idea that this appointment in quite flagrant ways represents a violation of the Public Sector Management Act. The Act is predicated upon the idea that appointment to the public service should be on the basis of merit. That Act is predicated on the basis that the public service should be an apolitical, independent arm of the administration of New South Wales - not filled with people who get there by political patronage but with people who get there on the basis of their qualifications, their experience and their personal capacity. The Wran Government undertook a useful exercise in its early years in office. It commissioned Peter Wilenski to review New South Wales government administration.
The Hon. Jennifer Gardiner: How many jobs did Peter Wilenski get?
The Hon. J. W. SHAW: Professor Wilenski has had many jobs. He has been eminently qualified for all of them. He is an extremely distinguished Australian representative at the United Nations and has filled all his posts with complete and utter distinction. In November 1977 Peter Wilenski produced an interim report entitled "Directions for Change" - a milestone in the reform of the New South Wales public service, which had ossified under the Askin administration for many years. In paragraph 7.5 of the Wilenski report the idea of objective appointment to the public service was emphasised. Wilenski said:
The Public Service Act should now be amended to provide more clearly for newer methods of recruitment and ensure that they conform to the merit principle and specific guidelines should be laid down by regulation under which the Public Service Board should operate in this area. It would appear that the best way for this to be done is that the new provisions in the Act should not be specific but simply re-affirm that it is the responsibility of the Board to ensure that entrance to the Public Service is based on the principle of open, competitive entry. In this regard, I am attracted by the suggested form of words of the Royal Commission on Australian Government Administration. With slight modification, these are: "Entrance to the Public Service should be on the basis of open and competitive entry. The Public Service Board shall develop recruitment procedures which rely on a careful assessment of those personal qualifications and capabilities likely to contribute to the efficient working of the Public Service, and which as far as possible preclude patronage, favouritism or unjustified discrimination".
Every aspect of the Metherell appointment - every step in that process - was the complete antithesis of that statement. The whole procedure was aimed not at the idea of meritorious appointment; the whole theme of the Metherell appointment was to give patronage, apply favouritism and implement unjustified discrimination. That was the undeniable essence of the Metherell appointment. As such, it flew in the face of every principle and letter of the Public Sector Management Act. Indeed, the contrary is not respectably arguable. I would be interested to hear any member on the Government side of this House justify this appointment step by step in terms of the Public Sector Management Act, because, quite frankly, it cannot be done in any persuasive or legitimate way.
The question is raised, of course, again and again, as it is in this case, about past appointments. It is not my role, my responsibility, or my desire to defend every appointment of every past political party. What a very flimsy defence this is. If the best this Government can do is say, "All right, we agree this is a shoddy and illegal appointment but other political parties have done it in past eras", what a pathetically weak defence that is. Whatever might be the past history and the examples the Government can dredge up from the past, the objective and undoubted fact is that this particular appointment is indefensible, illegal and pathetic. It flies in the face of the Act the Government passed, the Public Sector Management Act. If the Government cannot defend the appointment in the terms of that Act, it is an absolutely hopeless defence to say that in some past era something else was done which might also, arguably, have defied the provisions of the relevant public service statute.
We were all, of course, stunned by the announcement of the Metherell appointment on the Friday when it was made, but it was only subsequently, on Thursday, 16th April, when we saw the Government Gazette, that we appreciated some new and bizarre dimensions to the Government's ploy. The issue of the New South Wales Government Gazette published on 16th April, 1992, illustrates the flurry of paperwork that must have landed on the Governor's desk on the evening of Friday, 10th April, the
strange timing of the various steps in the operation and the question mark that hangs over the validity of Dr Metherell's contract. The Government Gazette shows that on 10th April the Governor signed and sealed a document effectively amending the Public Sector Management Act 1988 by creating two new senior executive service positions: first, that of Policy Director, Premier's Department, and, second, Resource Director, Long Term Strategy Unit of the Environment Protection Authority. On the same day the Governor appointed Dr Metherell to the senior executive service position of Policy Director, Premier's Department, for a period ending 3rd May, 1997. It appears that also on 10th April the newly resigned member of Parliament entered into a written contract with the Government, though its terms have not been publicly disclosed.
One significant problem in all of this is that it is clear that as at the date of appointment and the contract the new positions did not legally exist. Unless the description of a position has already been placed in the schedule to the Act, the legislation makes clear that a new senior executive service position can be created only by the Governor's proclamation. This is something more than the Governor's private action, involving public pronouncement in the Government Gazette. The new positions were not in place until six days after the appointment and contract. Though the Act expressly allows the contract to be made before or after the appointment of the officer, there is no such facilitation of the contract or appointment preceding the creation of the office. This is for the obvious reason that the legislation contemplates that the filling of a senior executive service position will be achieved by the advertisement of a vacancy and a process of selection from competing candidates on the basis of merit - requirements that were blatantly ignored in the present case. Clearly, merit appointment requires the creation of a position, and the definition of its nature and duties, before a selection committee can assess the ability, qualifications and experience of applicants for that particular position.
This process was impossible here, because the legal steps necessary to define the job were not completed when the appointment was made. Yet, in an equivocal way, the Government, or at least some spokespersons for the Government, suggested that the member of Parliament applied and competed for a generally advertised position in the Premier's Department. The details of that process are shrouded in mystery. It seems overwhelmingly likely that this was merely a cover to assist the obtaining of the EPA position. The fact that the jobs had not been formally created at the time when public protest erupted damages Mr Greiner's claim that Dr Metherell's removal by Parliament would be wrong because it would be retrospective. This is compounded by the fact that the appointment was apparently not to take effect until 3rd May, 1992. Let me specify the areas in which this appointment was clearly contrary to the provisions of the Public Sector Management Act. First, the creation of the two senior executive service positions - that is the position in the Premier's Department and the position in the EPA - was not for the proper statutory purpose but for the ulterior and impermissible purpose of political advantage to the present Government. The proper statutory purpose for which a position in the public service should be created is that of good public administration.
If one looks at the Public Sector Management Act, one can discern from that Act the objects of efficient public administration. Section 7 of the Act empowers the Treasurer to fix the maximum number of staff to be employed in any department, being the number which the Treasurer considers necessary for the effective, efficient and economical management of the functions and activities of the department. Section 11 of the Act provides that department heads are responsible to their appropriate Minister for the general conduct and the effective, efficient and economical management of the functions and activities of the department. So, it is clear that where this Act allows the creation of a new position in the public service, it allows it for the purpose of the
efficient administration of the State, not for the purpose of providing a job for some maverick member of Parliament. This Government, in advising the Governor to create these positions, has been motivated by an impermissible and extraneous purpose and, therefore, there is a fundamental invalidity and illegality in the creation of the two positions which were dealt with on 10th April. Furthermore, there was no vacant position to be filled as at 10th April in accordance with section 26 of the Public Sector Management Act because the documentation for the creation of those positions was not signed until that same day and the positions did not exist until proclaimed in the Government Gazette some six days later. That might seem a technical point, but the Interpretation Act makes it clear that the idea of proclamation involves more than the Governor signing and sealing a document. The act of proclamation involves publication in the Government Gazette. Until these positions were published in the Government Gazette, they did not exist as a matter of law. They did not exist until six days after the contract was entered into and the appointment was made. So, there was no vacant office as at 10th April because the office had not been created.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering: Where does the six days come from?
The Hon. J. W. SHAW: The six days comes from the fact that the office is not created until the position is proclaimed, and that proclamation, if one looks at the Interpretation Act, means publication in the Government Gazette. In this case we had on 10th April the contract, appointment, signing and sealing of the positions but only subsequently the creation of the positions by the publication in the Government Gazette. Clearly, the Public Sector Management Act contemplates that the job is created first, the nature and duties of the job are known, and the test under section 26 of the Public Sector Management Act is applied to see whether the applicants have the credentials to fill the job. Indeed, more than that: section 26 is applied to give a comparative standard between all the applicants. It is not just a case of saying that Dr Metherell is qualified for this job. That is not in conformity with Section 26 of the Public Sector Management Act. One has to look at all the qualified applicants and say who is the best. That is conspicuously not what has happened. Quite clearly, and indeed beyond argument, as I think sensible people on both sides of the House would have to acknowledge, the Government might have said: "Look, Dr Metherell had a town planning degree, admittedly obtained 20 years ago. Therefore he would be okay. He has had some government and private practice since then".
The Hon. Virginia Chadwick: When did the Hon. J. W. Shaw get his law degree?
The Hon. J. W. SHAW: I have practised a bit of law since then. It might be said that Dr Metherell had some political experience since then and so on. But no one conscientiously determined that he was the best of those many applicants for positions in the Premier's Department. The other consideration is that it seems from Mr Humphry's letter, which was made public, that Mr Humphry thought that his duty was to form an opinion whether Dr Metherell was qualified to fill the position in the Environment Protection Authority. That seems to me to be a complete and utter misconception of his role. Mr Humphry's role was clearly to form an opinion whether Dr Metherell was the best candidate to fill the position in the Premier's Department. Mr Humphry had no power, authority or role in filling a position in the EPA. He was not the department head and if the relevant factor in his mind was whether Dr Metherell, because of his town planning degree and experience in politics, was okay for the EPA, he asked himself the wrong question. He should have directed his mind to the question of whether Dr Metherell fulfilled the requirements for the Premier's Department position. What is
not clear in my mind is why the Government created these two positions, one in the Premier's Department and one in the EPA. If the Government thought Dr Metherell was brilliant for the EPA position, why did it not simply create the EPA position and have him appointed there? That requires some explanation. It is not clear on the public record why that complicated manoeuvre was undertaken.
The Hon. D. J. Gay: It is a waste of an answer.
The Hon. J. W. SHAW: I am entitled to pose the question. Quite frankly, questions have been posed in the past two weeks and we have not heard any clear answer from the Government on that particular point. Both the appointment and the contract occurred before the positions were created in terms of their publication in the Government Gazette. In those circumstances Dr Metherell could not have duly applied for appointment to the vacant position within section 26(2)(a) of the Public Sector Management Act and hence the department head was not permitted to select him. It is quite clear, having regard to the provisions of section 26, that unless there is a due application for appointment to a vacant position, the department head cannot select that particular candidate. Since it is clear that the vacant position was never advertised in accordance with the Act, the department head was restricted to appointing an existing public servant in accordance with section 26(3) of the Act.
Unless the Government can make good the allegation made - only by an operative of the Premier, not by the Government itself - that that earlier advertisement of 14th March generally seeking senior positions in the Premier's Department was the advertisement which triggered this whole process, it seems quite clear that the department head is unable to appoint an outsider because the department head can only appoint an outsider when the position is duly advertised. One can see the policy rationale for that. If a position is to be filled from within the public service, maybe it is legitimate not to advertise the position to the world; but if outsiders are to be appointed, and applications are to be accepted from individuals who are not members of the public service, surely it should be a pre-condition for that process that the vacant position be advertised. What I am saying is that there was clearly no advertisement for the vacant positions which were created on 10th April.
Finally, and most significantly, there was an absolute defiance of the merit appointment process. Section 26 of the Public Sector Management Act makes it abundantly clear that a detailed process of merit appointment is to take place for all initial engagements in the public service. Section 26 applies to senior executive service positions by virtue of section 22 of the Act. Section 22 indicates that a number of provisions of the Act do not apply to senior executive service positions, but section 26 and section 31 do apply. Section 26 of the Public Sector Management Act refers to the department head determining the merit of the persons eligible for appointment to a vacant position. It directs the department head to have regard to certain quite tangible considerations; in particular, the nature of the duties of the position and the abilities, qualifications, experience, standard of work performance and personal qualities of those persons that are relevant to the performance of those duties. Section 26(2) states:
In deciding to make a recommendation for the appointment of a person to a vacant position which has been advertised in accordance with this Act:
(a) the appropriate Department Head may only select a person who has duly applied for appointment to the vacant position; and
(b) the appropriate Department Head must, from among the applicants eligible for appointment to the vacant position, select the applicant who has, in the opinion of the Department Head, the greatest merit.
The only defence for not undertaking those various hurdles is to be found in section 26(5), which provides for a candidate who has passed a competitive examination prescribed for appointment to vacant positions. I do not think even the staunchest defenders of the Metherell appointment would contend that the good doctor had passed a competitive examination for the position, so I do not think there is any issue as to that. It has never been asserted, though with this affair one never knows what might turn up tomorrow morning in the pronouncements of the Government. We can put aside the question that the good doctor undertook a competitive examination, and ask whether he really was assessed by the relevant decision-makers within the requirements of section 26 that I have set out in perhaps too elaborate detail. However, I thought the House should be aware of the detail that the Parliament has determined ought to apply to merit appointments to the senior executive service.
It is a myth that a Minister can direct a department head to appoint someone to the senior executive service. The department head is bound absolutely to apply this detailed regime of merit appointment. Given everything that happened on 10th April, how can anyone seriously or honestly argue that is what happened? Given the time frame, that is, Dr Metherell's application being lodged on the very date of his selection, and given the lack of any definition of the nature of the duties of the position, I would suggest to this House that the department head could not have properly determined that Dr Metherell had the greatest merit - I use that term from the Act - among the eligible applicants, having regard to those persons' abilities, qualifications, experience, standard of work performance and personal qualities as required by section 26 of the Act. How fatuous it is for Mr Tim Moore or for Mr Nick Greiner to say that Dr Metherell is qualified for this position. That is not the relevant question. The question is: has he the greatest merit for this position of all the applicants? No one has publicly attempted to defend the proposition that he does have the greatest merit, because he was never subjected to any proper, objective or rigorous inquiry on that particular point.
There is then the curious aspect of Dr Metherell somehow being seconded from the Premier's Department to the EPA. So far as I know there has not been any publicly disclosed material to suggest that he was validly seconded or transferred from the Premier's Department, from where he was actually appointed to the EPA and was not formally appointed according to the Government Gazette. The Act provides certain formalities for the process of secondment or transfer. So far as I can see there is no evidence of due process in this secondment or transfer. The Public Sector Management Act has just been ripped up and thrown in the garbage bin by this Government in relation to this appointment. If the law can be flouted in that way, the whole apolitical nature of the public service is threatened. Some might say that this shows the grave dangers with the senior executive service system as such. Frankly, I think that if the standards contained in the statute are abided by, the senior executive service, with whatever faults it might have, can remain an objective part of the public service. However, if we are to forget about these safeguards and flout them in this blatant way, the senior executive service, as an expandable section of the public service, clearly is open to the sort of abuse that we see most spectacularly in the case of the Metherell appointment.
[The President left the chair at 6.30 p.m. The House resumed at 8.15 p.m.]
The Hon. JAN BURNSWOODS [8.15]: It is with great pleasure that I speak to this motion to censure the Government for the appointment of Dr Terry Metherell to the senior executive service, to call upon the Hon. Nick Greiner and the Hon. Tim Moore to stand aside from their positions until the conclusion of the inquiry conducted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption and also to call upon the Government to
terminate Dr Metherell's appointment without compensation. All honourable members will agree that in the two and a half weeks since the people of New South Wales learned about this amazingly cynical proposal by the Government to advantage both itself and Dr Metherell the coverage in the media and everywhere else has proved the reaction of outrage of the people of New South Wales. While the Premier and his Ministers - and indeed Dr Metherell himself - may have seemed or pretended to be oblivious to what a cynical and corrupt deal they were doing, the reaction in the media and from the people on the first day they heard about it, 11th April, proved how out of touch the Government of New South Wales really is. It seems to have forgotten any of the most basic tenets of political morality.
In those two and a half weeks the details have been gradually dragged - and I emphasise that word - out of the Premier. As the days have gone by the original smugness and that cocky attitude that the Premier and the Minister for the Environment first displayed have been replaced by desperation as they have released a few letters, admitted a few facts, and sent people out to try to draw red herrings across the trail. That is very different from the first day when they thought they had pulled off a great coup. I remember particularly that morning of 11th April. In company with a number of members of the Independent Commission Against Corruption committee I came in to Parliament House on the way to Hong Kong to consult with members of the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption. When I arrived here and stopped my car before entering the car park I saw a great crowd in the Domain and the heads of two tall people in the middle, who turned out to be Metherell and Moore in the Domain giving their press conference. I could not resist going over to listen to what was happening. At that stage one would have thought that there had been the greatest coup of all times. Tim Moore in particular was a picture of smugness and smartness. He was handing out to all sorts of people, me included, copies of Terry Metherell's resignation letter.
As the Liberal Party and National Party members of the Independent Commission Against Corruption committee arrived to park their cars on their way to the airport it was interesting to hear some of their reactions. It may not be right for me to quote what they said, but I must admit that I enjoyed immensely being the person who broke the news to many Liberal Party and National Party members of the Government. To say the least, their reactions were interesting. Tim Moore, however, kept coming and going, handing out letters to the journos and generally looking as though he was the smartest thing since sliced bread. He was just like a five year old. I then went off to Hong Kong, but I assure honourable members that even in Hong Kong these events made the newspapers. Various people - not me - went out and paid $5 for two-day-old copies of the Sydney Morning Herald and brought them back to go over them at breakfast time. They were ringing their offices. Oddly enough they seemed to realise from the beginning that it was not a great coup but was in fact an action of corruption, an action of the utmost seriousness, and something that would do the Greiner Government of New South Wales the greatest harm.
It still seems to me to be amazing that the Premier and the Minister for the Environment, and Dr Metherell if he cared, could possibly have thought that this was the kind of thing the people of New South Wales would accept as part of the political norm. We are not simply talking about jobs for the boys or any of the other phrases so often used in politics. We are talking about what many people believe to be a criminal offence, or even a series of criminal offences. We are talking about a government offering an inducement to a member of Parliament to resign his seat in return for a highly paid job, a large sum of money, to bring a benefit to him and a benefit to the Government. As the legal advice that has been quoted already today makes clear, in the past those things have
been found to be criminal offences. Many of us look forward to the Independent Commission Against Corruption conducting a balanced investigation into the actions that took place during that period between February and 10th April and drawing conclusions about the degree of corruption to which this desperate Government has sunk. The Opposition also finds it amazing that the Premier of New South Wales should stoop so low, as to not only bring his Government into disrepute by buying off a member of Parliament to resign his seat, but also to choose such a particular member of Parliament.
When we examine the performance of Terry Metherell since this Government came into office in 1988, when we remember how much trouble he caused the Government as Minister for Education - and it certainly was not just that people in the community, the Teachers Federation or Labor supporters who were upset with what Terry Metherell was doing; it was very clear that the Government itself was very worried by the man's sheer immoderation - and when it is remembered that he was convicted of tax offences and was forced to resign, it really seems as if all of those who had said from the beginning that there were certain problems with Dr Metherell have been proved correct. Perhaps the only sensible thing that Mr Greiner ever did in relation to Dr Metherell was to renege on his promise to reinstate him in the ministry. But when that promise was not kept Dr Metherell reacted in the way that could have been predicted: he immediately resigned from the Liberal Party and launched a series of furious attacks on the Premier personally, on the Liberal Party and on all the things for which he had previously stood. He made comments which are ironic in retrospect, to say the least, about how the senior executive service, for instance, had been a dreadful failure. It makes one wonder now whether Dr Metherell still thinks the senior executive service has been a dreadful failure. He probably does think so; he probably thinks that he can fix it up.
Suddenly in March the whole situation changed. Suddenly Dr Metherell's language changed; he was no longer attacking the Government quite so much; he actually began to find a few positive things to say about it; he even voted with the Government. Many people started thinking that perhaps something was afoot. Of course, it was all denied. But I doubt whether anyone in New South Wales at the time believed that there was not something afoot, and how right we all were. But, in retrospect, how sinister it is that during the month of March and early in April, when the rumours were spreading about what was going on, as we now know the negotiations were indeed going on to induce Dr Metherell to resign his seat in return for a total package, as the Leader of the Opposition said earlier today, worth about half a million dollars. If any evidence was needed to raise the suspicion about the corruption to which I have previously referred, it would be the fact that during that period a member of the lower House changed his vote in the Parliament, in particular on the endangered fauna and timber industry bills. As we now know, that was at the very time at which he was engaged in negotiations with the Government which was offering him an inducement in return for his resignation, that offer being prompted by the Government's wish to win the seat of Davidson. It will be very interesting on Saturday to find out whether that wish comes true.
I would like to go into the chronology of events in a little more detail because it points to the allegations of corruption that are now being made. It raises questions about the political morality of all of the people about whom we are talking. We now know that in February this year, not long after The Entrance by-election and the Government's humiliation in that by-election and its fears for the future, in the context of the threats to the seats of three other members of the lower House - three Liberal members, all of whom were in situations that ranged from the scandalous to the improper - Metherell approached the Government about a possible job vacancy, perhaps
in the Environment Protection Authority, perhaps somewhere else. It has now been admitted that some time in February Metherell approached the Government, or maybe the Government approached Metherell. Certainly we now know from both sides that those conversations took place in February. We also know that on 6th March Metherell had a series of meetings with the Government, the Opposition and the Independents over the amendments to the Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Bill. We know that in those negotiations Dr Metherell rejected the proposals contained in the amendments put forward to him by the Minister for the Environment and that he had discussions with the Leader of the Opposition and with the other Independents. Yet only four days later, on 10th March when Parliament was recalled, as we all remember, to consider the Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Bill, suddenly that day Dr Metherell did a complete about-face and supported the Government's legislation. That was on 10th March.
We now know that only two days later Mr Humphry recommended the creation of two senior executive service positions in the Premier's Department. We now know something, although obviously not the whole story, about the conversations and the negotiations which had gone on in the lead-up to that formal recommendation by Mr Humphry. We will not know the truth of many of these things until the ICAC investigation starts in the next couple of weeks. During the few days after that, as we now know, many letters were written and many meetings held involving members of the Government, Dr Metherell, public servants who got dragged willingly or unwillingly into this whole corrupt process of apparently setting things up so that later on they would look clean, and so that when the news finally broke, it could be pretended that everything had happened in the normal way. The paper-work was done, the jobs existed, and the vacancies were advertised in the Sydney Morning Herald, even though the advertisements did not contain the normal details. A series of shams was gone through which involved certainly Mr Humphry, if not other people in the New South Wales public service; and that is not the least of the most frightening and sinister aspects of this whole affair.
In late March suddenly the Liberal Party called for nominations for pre-selection for the State seat of Davidson - something which seemed surprising at the time but in retrospect it is clear that certain people in the Liberal Party were privy to the conspiracy to buy off Dr Metherell and to hold open the opportunity for the Liberal Party to regain the seat. As we got closer to 10th April and the meetings and letters, and the conspiracy mounted, more and more people - public servants again - were dragged into the whole conspiracy, such as people in the Environment Protection Authority, the Parliamentary Counsel and so on. On 10th April we finally had the amazing series of letters, and since then we have had the admission by the Minister for the Environment that he held on to the two letters from Metherell for about three hours while everything was sorted out. There are real questions about the order of events on 10th April and whether Dr Metherell's application for the job and his resignation came before or after such things as the proclamation, and the details of the recommendations to the Governor and so on. As I said earlier, I hope that the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry will be able to establish the truth of much of what happened in those few days. What is very clear is that the Premier lied for as long as he could get away with it - he lied to us; he lied to the media; he lied to the people of New South Wales. Bit by bit some of the details have been dragged out of him, but we obviously have much more to learn.
Since the news became public on 11th April we have had a series of pathetic and shameful attempts by the Government to admit first of all, that it was a political appointment. As even members of the Government condemned the appointment, and as the Labor Party and the Independents, the media without exception and the majority of
people in New South Wales reacted with disbelief and disappointment to the cynicism, corruption and dishonesty, gradually over the next couple of weeks the Premier and his minions were forced to admit a few more facts. Nevertheless, when the Cabinet met a few days later it unanimously endorsed the Premier's actions, although from memory on the same day or perhaps the day before the Liberal Party executive had met and condemned the Premier's actions. Obviously the Cabinet did not have the guts to do anything else. It could see the writing on the wall for the future of this Government. Despite the clearly telegraphed unhappiness of some members of Cabinet and the fact that they may not have worried too much about the morality of what was being done, some of them could see the political ramifications. Nevertheless, to their shame, they backed the Premier totally and tried to tough it out.
Over the next couple of weeks the same sorts of things happened. Taking things step by step the Premier first said that Dr Metherell had a contract but he was ambiguous about the specific job to which the contract related and whether Dr Metherell was entitled to compensation. Finally, on 18th April, the Premier announced that Dr Metherell did not have the EPA job at all, which was the one he was so highly qualified for. Nevertheless, he still has the senior executive service job in the Premier's office and is due to commence duty on about 4th May. Then we had the amazing comedy of the Premier's press secretary thinking he could solve it all by saying that Dr Metherell had applied properly for the job and that everything was all right. The job had been advertised, Dr Metherell had applied for it, and the Premier's press secretary did not know what the fuss was about. But instead of solving the problem that merely put the Government deeper into the mire. So the whole sorry saga has gone on and on - the whole dishonest and corrupt saga; the painful business of a government caught out, desperately trying to deny that it is caught out, desperately trying to keep the lid on things as it struggles to a by-election being held in a shamefully short period of time, and desperately hoping that the whole thing does not turn out to be ashes in its mouth as it may yet lose the Davidson by-election, and that would put the cap on the whole thing.
What is most important about this whole business is that this is not just a matter of appointing a friend, of jobs for the boys or other similar phrases that are sometimes used about the appointment of former members of Parliament to jobs. Yet this is what some members of the Government have tried to make us believe. What makes this issue conspicuously different is that Dr Metherell was a member of Parliament who was prevailed upon or induced to resign in return for a very highly salaried job. In other words, not only was he induced for monetary gain to resign his seat, but in return the Government would gain a wonderful advantage by changing the numbers in the lower House by getting rid of an Independent and restoring a Liberal member to the seat of Davidson, or so the Government hopes. The Premier has been surprisingly frank in some ways about some aspects of this matter. For instance, I refer to an interview on 15th April with Andrew Olle when the Premier said:
The present situation in the numerical sense is unstable. Of course the Independents have an agreement with us and that agreement is working tolerably well. Dr Metherell was not part of that agreement and it is as clear as night follows day that the election of a Liberal in that seat contributes substantially to the long-term stability of government in this State.
By referring to government, of course, the Premier was not referring to government in the abstract but to his Government, the Liberal Party-National Party Government. He has made several other statements much to the same effect in which he has admitted that the point of the exercise was to gain an advantage for the Liberal Government in this State. It is interesting to note in passing that in the same interview on 15th April the Premier was asked:
What is your reaction to suggestions coming from the Labor Party in New South Wales that the case of Dr Metherell's appointment might be a case to be referred to the ICAC.
Mr Greiner's response was:
It seems that in the relatively short space of time since 15th April the man who moved the motion in Parliament this afternoon to refer the matter to the Independent Commission Against Corruption has changed his mind. That is an indication of the sort of pressure he has been under and the way in which he has been gradually caught out in his lies. As the pressure has mounted, he has been forced to admit the truth and change his mind. The reference to the Independent Commission Against Corruption has been forced on him, just as every other admission in this whole sorry saga has been forced on him. As I said, those sorts of statements that the Premier made about the real purpose of the entire exercise can be picked up in many other interviews. For instance, on 15th April, on the John Laws program, he said:
Well, I'm not concerned about Dr Metherell one way or the other. It was simply my judgment, given the particular situation in Parliament and my obligation, as I see it, to provide stability of government, which is very hard in 1992, that this was in fact a clear-cut plus for all the people concerned - the Parliament, the Government, the Independents, the people of Davidson - in my view, all of those. There is a clear plus and he will do the job in the most excellent manner.
Again on the same day he said to John Laws:
Well, its only a benefit to the Government.
But you're the Government.
The Premier said:
Oh, certainly, I've got an obligation to the provision of stable government. That is exactly right and that is why I made the decision.
As I said earlier, it seemed for a long time as if the Premier of this State was unaware of the breathtaking dishonesty and corruption of the sort of game he was indulging in. He honestly seemed to think as long as he could go on being the fettered child everyone would eventually admit how clever he was and he could be forgiven. I think he perhaps now realises that that is very much not the case. As I said earlier, the whole matter is, I believe, properly referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption because that commission was set up to deal with corruption in the public sector in New South Wales and in this issue we have corruption going right to the heart of government. Corruption in the public service is bad enough, and some investigations that have occurred in the three years of the Independent Commission Against Corruption have been worrying enough, but when that corruption comes right to the heart of the Government of New South Wales, when it involves the Premier of this State as directly as he has admitted he has been involved, and when it involves also a key Minister, the Minister for the Environment and the Leader of the House in the other place, then it seems to me there can be no doubt that both the Premier and that Minister should stand down for the duration of that inquiry by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Early in the debate some honourable members quoted what the Premier himself had said in the past about how responsible Ministers should have the decency to stand down while they are under investigation on allegations as serious as those now levelled against him. I would like to reiterate how firmly we believe that the Premier and the Minister for the Environment should stand aside until that Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry is concluded. I think it goes without saying, and I believe even members of the Government might now be happy to agree, that Dr Metherell's appointment should be terminated without compensation. The whole sorry saga would be made even worse and be even more sickening to the people of New South Wales if it were to culminate in Dr Metherell never doing a day's work in this job that was found for him, yet being paid by the people of New South Wales about $110,000 a year for five years not for doing any work but just for being bought out of a seat in Parliament that the Government desperately needed.
The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY [8.43]: I am pleased to speak in this debate because this is not a debate about another job for the boys. This is not a debate about a member of Parliament or a former member of Parliament being appointed to a government position; this is about the Government appointing an Independent member of Parliament to a government position so that the Government can win a seat in a by-election and therefore, in a hung Parliament, increase its numbers by one.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering: What did Mr Bannon do?
The PRESIDENT: Order! I hesitate to interrupt the comments of the Hon. P. F. O'Grady, but recently Hansard have expressed difficulty hearing members who wander too far from the microphones. I ask the honourable member, bearing in mind the location of the microphones, to organise his perambulations accordingly and in particular to ensure that he projects his voice towards the microphones for the assistance of Hansard.
The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY: Thank you, Mr President, for a very creative suggestion. I should raise my voice to indicate the seriousness of the debate. Not one coalition member has risen today to defend this Government on this sleazy corrupt deal. None of them has got the substance, the guts, to try to defend the actions of the Government because the actions of the Government cannot be defended from anyone on the Government backbenches. This is a Government which has died; it is electorally dead and is on the nose. How long is it since the Askin Government was in power in New South Wales? In 1976 the Askin era came to an end. A variety of Liberal leaders came and went, lost their seats, or were defeated in the party room, until one Nicholas Hugo Greiner, the white knight of the Liberal Party, came charging through New South Wales and Australia as the new hope of liberalism. Instead of hope he has brought us a Government which is crook, a Government which now has the Federal Leader of the Liberal Party saying that he needs to spend more time in New South Wales because its Government has problems.
The Federal Liberal Party will have to concentrate more on New South Wales because of the stench of its Liberal administration. Is it any wonder that the Liberal Party in this State smells when that party has appointed Dr Terry Metherell to a $110,000 a year post in the New South Wales public service? It has done that to create a vacancy in the lower House and therefore a by-election in the hope that the Government's numbers could be increased by one. That by-election was called within a few days of Dr Metherell's resignation. It will be the shortest by-election campaign in New South Wales for decades. This Government has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that its
power is increased. The Minister for Police interjected earlier and said, "What about Brian Bannon?" Brian Bannon was the former Labor member for Rockdale who resigned as a member of Parliament. The subsequent Premier of New South Wales, Barrie Unsworth, contested that by-election and won.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering: Do you remember that?
The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY: I do remember it. I do not see how the Minister could compare those two examples, because the Labor Government had a majority of seats in the Legislative Assembly and the resignation of one member did not affect the balance of power in that House. What the Government has attempted to do with thi sleazy, corrupt deal is to increase its numbers in the Legislative Assembly by one. Government members set out to secure the resignation of Terry Metherell, and therefore the creation of a vacancy in the Legislative Assembly so that through a by-election the Government would have the opportunity of increasing its votes in the Legislative Assembly. Tonight members of the National Party in this Chamber have been particularly quiet. They have made some public comments. Some members of the National Party in the other place have indicated their concern about the direction and leadership of this Government, but members of the National Party in this Chamber have not expressed either their concern about or their confidence in this Government. Of course, we know that they do not have confidence in this Government. In the Cabinet room and in their party room they are saying to members of the Liberal Party, "Enough is enough".
On 25th May this Government was supposed to deliver a great victory for conservative parties in this State. But the Liberal Party failed. Nicholas Hugo Greiner failed. He failed because the people of New South Wales knew and recognised his appalling track record in managing the affairs of this State. In 1988 the people of New South Wales were presented with a white knight on a charger. That was the picture that was painted. This was a new era of government. This was an era of government with integrity. Members of the conservative parties did not want to talk about Askin; they knew all about him. We recognise that Askin was something of an embarrassment to the conservative parties in this State. This Premier has shown that he will stoop to any level to ensure victory for the conservative parties. The motion which is before the Parliament tonight is of great importance. It is about the integrity of the process of government. Members of the Liberal Party said, "We will deliver new government". But new government has not been delivered. We have the same old sleazy, corrupt Government. Tonight this motion should be passed because we have before us the commencement of an inquiry by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
The Hon. E. P. Pickering: Established by this Government.
The Hon. P. F. O'GRADY: Established by this Government and supported by this Opposition. This Parliament clearly should respond to the crisis which has faced New South Wales in the past fortnight by supporting this motion and by ensuring that the sleazy, corrupt process of government administered by N. F. Greiner is brought to a halt.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA [8.54]: I have been sitting in this Chamber all afternoon waiting for one Government member to defend this Government. I have not heard one Government member speak against this most serious censure motion. I have been in this Parliament 10 years and, in that time, not a single censure motion has been moved against either a Labor or Liberal government. This is a serious motion, yet honourable members opposite are sitting in this Chamber like stunned mullets saying not a word. Week after week the Hon. J. M. Samios defends the Queen of England but he has said nothing about his own Premier. The Hon. J. F. Ryan talks about everything and
anything but has said not a word to defend the Greiner Government. I could say that about every honourable member in this Chamber. The former Leader of the National Party, the Hon. R. B. Rowland Smith, was a member of this Parliament when I arrived. I looked up to him as an elder statesman. Even he has said not a word. Shame on honourable members opposite! The only person for whom I have any respect is the Leader of the Government. At least he has had the good sense to stay in the House all afternoon. I pay tribute to him for showing the House that courtesy. But what of other honourable members? Half of them are in the dining-room, others are in the bar and only four members are in the House listening to a most serious censure motion against their own Government. If a motion was ever moved to censure Labor government all Labor members would be in the Chamber to speak against the motion.
Recently I was talking to a prominent member of the ethnic community about this whole matter. He said to me: "This is how it all starts. Corruption in many European and North American countries is endemic and often this is how it all starts". I thought a lot about this conversation and wondered whether Australia was more corrupt than other countries. Perhaps other countries are less sophisticated. People in other countries might go to the offices of members of Parliament with a big brown envelope filled with bank-notes. They might put that envelope on the table and say, "If you do this for me, I will do something for you". People in Australia are much more sophisticated. However, the Premier approached a member of Parliament and said: "You scratch my back and I will scratch yours. At the end of the year you will receive $110,000 and it will not look like a bribe, it will be a job". We are told that people in Queensland come forward with brown envelopes but that people in New South Wales are much more sophisticated. Metherell did Moore and Greiner a favour and they have done him a favour in return. The great losers are the people of New South Wales. Government is about honesty and propriety but this goes well beyond jobs for the boys. No matter what the Government says, this is a scandal; it is a prima facie case of corruption. I wish to read part of an opinion given by two eminent Queen's Counsel on 28th April. It states:
We have been asked to advise as to whether the resignation as a Member of Parliament on April 10 1992 by Dr Terry Metherell and his appointment to the NSW Public Service on the same day, upon the facts as known and briefed to us, constitutes any serious criminal offence including corruption under the laws of New South Wales. We have already advised in conference that in our view, on the material briefed, corruption does appear to be disclosed at least at a prima facie level.
I assure honourable members opposite that people in the community are disgusted by the behaviour of Dr Metherell, Mr Greiner and Mr Moore. People expect - they are entitled to expect - certain standards of behaviour or propriety from politicians and public servants. Today I was amused to read in the Sydney Morning Herald Clover Moore's explanation for changing her mind. Apparently, after speaking to Mr Marsden, President of the Law Society of New South Wales, she saw the light. Mr Marsden said, "People in Campbelltown are not interested in this sort of matter". They sure are.
The Hon. J. F. Ryan: They sure are.
The Hon. FRANCA ARENA: Exactly. Honourable members opposite might believe that people in Campbelltown do not have the same standards as people in other areas, but people everywhere have standards. People expect honesty and propriety from honourable members opposite, from me, from the President and from every honourable member in this Chamber. They have standards and do not want politicians to be concerned only with morality, dealing with sex, to be concerned only about pornography, homosexuality, prostitution and casinos; they want politicians to be concerned about their
own honesty and propriety. That is what is important. If people come to accept that this sordid affair is what they can expect from politicians, it will be a sorry state of affairs for honourable members. I received a statutory declaration from a former colleague, the Hon. J. R. Hallam, which read:
I, Jack R. Hallam, 6/130 Lighthouse Road, Byron Bay, at the Qantas International Terminal, on 4 April, 1991, had a brief conversation with the Hon. T. Pickering, Minister for Police and Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council as we were both en route to London. Our conversation was cordial and we exchanged personal greetings and general social comment. I then asked Ted how he found Government with the margin so close and he said that it did not make all that much difference but that it made them that little more sharper and he wasn't greatly concerned about the closeness of the margins.
I said, "You must be worried about Metherell."
He replied, "I am not at all concerned, I am not worried about him. He'll be gone soon."
So there was someone else who knew about the deal. I shall make this statutory declaration available to the Independent Commission Against Corruption so that the Minister is asked some questions. As honourable members will remember, on 2nd October, 1991, Dr Metherell resigned from the Liberal Party. I remember that well because I was at a function for ethnic businessmen, which was attended by the Premier, Mr Greiner, and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Carr. While we were at the Sheraton Hotel we saw people coming and going with television cameras. Everyone was saying: "There cannot be so much interest in ethnic awards. Something else must be afoot". In fact, something else was afoot. Dr Metherell had resigned. I think the Hon. J. M. Samios was present also at the giving of the ethnic communication awards. I was interested to learn the type of person Dr Metherell was. I shall use a word that may be unparliamentary, but you will tell me if that is so, Mr President. Dr Metherell was an absolute rat. He had a terrible problem with his taxation evasion but was supported by the Premier, who was his friend. Dr Metherell ratted on the Premier and on the Liberal Party. That should have told everyone the type of person he was.
I remember attending another meeting of the Ethnic Communities Council soon after Dr Metherell had to resign from the ministry because of his taxation evasion. I remember him coming into the meeting with his head lowered and looking like a really guilty and lost soul. The Premier, in all friendship, went up to him, shook his hand and made him feel welcome. But Dr Metherell turned round and ratted on the Premier. Did Mr Greiner learn a lesson from all that? Did he understand? He is a bad judge of people; he does not understand them; he does not understand the electorate. He really is a very thick Premier. This great man, who has a great vision for New South Wales, cannot even judge people. If he had understood Terry Metherell, he would never have made him an offer. He should have known that he could never again trust a person who had ratted on him.
Dr Metherell tried to rejoin the Liberal Party in February 1992. The branches were hostile. The Government sent the Hon. Patricia Forsythe running round the Davidson area trying to do work for the Liberal Party. I do not live far from that electorate. I saw her going round doing a good job and trying to arrest the damage. How could the Premier and Mr Moore make such a sleazy deal with Terry Metherell? It was a sleazy deal and a corrupt deal. Obviously Terry Metherell changed his vote on the timber industry bill once he knew it was important for him to change his vote in order to support the Government. That was an absolutely shameful act. Dr Metherell should be condemned for it, as should the Premier of New South Wales and Tim Moore. This
sort of behaviour is unacceptable. Many documents validate the facts I have brought to the attention of the House, and there is no doubt that there is a prima facie case of corruption. This saga of events demeans us all; it demeans Parliament and the office of parliamentarians. When I entered politics I thought I had entered a noble profession. Instead, I found that because of the Greiners, the Moores and the Metherells of this world I had to defend myself all the time in the community. The community thinks politicians are crooks, that they become parliamentarians for all they can get. They have no respect for politicians. That is of great concern to me. What sort of people will politics attract when the people see that all politicians do in Parliament is enter into sleazy deals. We must put a stop to that.
I am glad that the Independent Commission Against Corruption will investigate this matter. It is time that the people of New South Wales were told what this Government has done and about its practices. Mr Moore and the Premier must do the honourable thing and stand aside. It is fortunate that Parliament is sitting and that the issue can be debated. I fear that had this unhappy episode happened in June and Parliament was not to sit until September, the House would not have had an opportunity to debate the matter. It would have been swept under the carpet. Another leading member of the National Party, the Hon. D. J. Gay, has just walked into the Chamber, but not to speak in defence of this Government. No, he will sit there quietly as other Government members do. That will be to their eternal shame. Perhaps they have so much to hide that they do not dare speak. I support the censure motion. However, I am sad that this Parliament has come to the stage where the Opposition has to censure the Government and that the Minister and the Premier it seeks to censure do not have the internal fortitude to stand aside. That would be the most honourable thing they could do.
The Hon. I. M. MACDONALD [9.8]: I have waited for six hours this afternoon to see and hear a member on the Government side - a member of the National Party, the Hon. S. B. Mutch, or Pretty Boy himself, who is disappearing out the door, the leader of the Gay-Bull conspiracy of some time back - one of the brave human beings in the Government, come forward and say one word in defence of the Premier of this State. Here we have the second most serious motion that can be moved in any Chamber under the Westminster system, a censure motion, and not one honourable member from the Government side is prepared to come forward to explain why our dear Premier should not be censured over his little deal to look after Dr Terry Metherell - that wondrous shining light of the New South Wales education system from 1988 to 1991. In the past six hours not one honourable member opposite has ventured forth to support his dearly beloved Premier. The Premier has shown what he thinks of honourable members opposite and the other 19 members of Cabinet in relation to this issue. When he received this wondrous idea from Mr Hazzard and the leaping neo-green from the Liberal Party, the Hon. Tim Moore, to give their mate Terry a job, did the Premier consult Cabinet? Did he ring for Ted, the numbers man for the Liberal Party, the Leader of the movement, of the so-called left of the Liberal Party. Did the Premier ring any members of the Liberal Party to ask for their views on this great move to avert the problems with Mr Blackmore, Mr Packard or my mate from North Shore, Mr Smiles? The Premier did not feel compelled to seek the counsel of the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, saying, "Listen mate, you are our numbers person. You can sort this one out for me. Dr Terry has this great idea. After 10 years in public service he wants to be a public servant and that is the solution of the Liberal Party in this State".
The Minister for Police and Emergency Services did not receive a call. The Premier did not ring Webbers, the pretty boy from Goulburn and the National Party. He did not ring the Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs or even his close confidant, the Minister for Health and Community Services. He did not ring any of these
four luminaries on the front bench, leaving aside that wondrous intellect from Campbelltown, the Hon. J. F. Ryan. The Premier, of course, consulted the leaping Liberal green, Mr Moore. In secrecy over dinner the night before the great resignation they planned the application for a job in the public service of New South Wales. The Public Sector Management Act was intended to eliminate in the future such instances as this but the Premier did not see fit to consult the four Ministers in this Chamber, or consult any Minister in the other Chamber, bar one. That suggests these days a total lack of confidence by this isolated Premier in his so-called ministry. Yesterday one read in the papers and heard on the radio that the Premier has 100 per cent support from his Cabinet. The Hon. R. B. Rowland Smith is an honourable and decent man. Had he been in Cabinet at this time he would have voiced his opposition to this sleazy deal to look after Terry Metherell. Not more than two or three months earlier, Liberal Party members in this Chamber and the other Chamber described Dr Metherell in the most horrific and harsh terms as being, in effect, a rat to the Liberal Party.
The Hon. J. F. Ryan: Of course he was.
The Hon. I. M. MACDONALD: The Hon. J. F. Ryan has repeated the statement again, saying he was a rat to the Liberal Party. Yet he is being given a $110,000 job. The Premier has finally thrown off the mantle of being some kind of St George in the State of New South Wales somehow transforming this State by showing us a new and better way of governing. He says, in effect, "I am a great manager and New South Wales will be managed better under me". He has shown that he is a liar, a cheat, a scoundrel, a hypocrite and, worst of all, an incompetent of the highest order, because he could not even organise a job for Terry Metherell without ending up under investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption. National Party members in this Chamber have had the privilege of appearing before the Independent Commission Against Corruption, and honourable members should ask their views about it. The Hon. D. F. Moppett's view was quite clearly that the Independent Commission Against Corruption was a Star Chamber. He said that publicly at the time and was hit over the wrist by the Independent Commission Against Corruption for his statements. The Deputy Premier appeared at length before this particular body - which was initiated, devised and implemented by Mr Gary Sturgess, head of the Cabinet Office - and had no hesitation in informing the world and other Liberal Ministers, probably including the Hon. Ted Pickering, that it was one of the worst experiences of his entire political life.
Dr Terry Metherell, that most loathed of former Liberal Party members, the recipient of this gross deal, has now achieved what he probably whispered a hundred times to journalists and every member of Parliament; that is, that he wanted to bring the Greiner Government down. He took a big step in this arrangement in April and probably earlier. For instance, on 16th March he attended a cricket match between the parliamentary eleven and the press gallery. However, prior to attending there he made a statement to Steve Chase of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation about how he hoped the Premier would turn up so they can bury the hatchet and be good mates for ever and a day. Right back then they were heading towards some arrangement and a deal. It is interesting that the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the body created by the Premier, will now have the Premier called before it in a difficult circumstance indeed. None of the Ministers have defended the Premier in this instance and Government members remain silent. Even the Hon. Stephen Mutch, that most vociferous member of the Liberal Party, remains mute on this most critical attack on this Government in more than four years.
The Hon. Franca Arena: Where is the Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti, who is always interrupting?
The Hon. I. M. MACDONALD: Not even the Hon. Dr B. P. V. Pezzutti - Mr Plastic Fantastic - is in the Chamber to defend the Premier, and he is one of his closest allies and friends. There is no doubt that the Premier has been left to hang and dry by this Liberal Party in this Chamber today. The receiving of a telephone call from Mr Sturgess, head of the Cabinet Office, saying, "Mr Temby is on the line and he wants to have an inquiry into you", would have been the most profound shock to this 45-year-old Premier that could ever have been arranged. The head of the Cabinet Office, Mr Sturgess, would have had great difficulty arranging that type of birthday present even for his greatest enemy. But he did it for the Premier. He gave him an ICAC inquiry and said, "Mr Premier, for the next three or four months you can wander down to Redfern to those plush premises and face the battery of Steve Chase and Nick Richardson and the others outside in Cleveland Street. You can run the gauntlet just like the Deputy Premier" - though he did not really run the gauntlet - "when he had to face the Independent Commission Against Corruption". The Deputy Premier walked somewhat spritely into the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Of all the issues in this whole sordid affair, I find it most astounding that the Premier said when jumping up and down with shining bells and carrying on for 10 years in this State that he was going to change everything, yet in the end he is down there doing a deal because he has a few worries about Mr Smiles, Mr Blackmore and Mr Packard with his cars. He has a problem about one of those members going. Even the Minister for Police and Emergency Services who runs the group, who determines which of his staff members will be the next appointment in this Chamber -
Obviously the Hon. Dr Marlene Goldsmith is rather upset at that comment. I wonder why. Perhaps it is because she missed out on preselection for the seat of North Shore. The Minister for Police and Emergency Services has not been prepared to enter this debate to defend his Premier. None of the Ministers or members opposite has been prepared to speak in the debate. They did not like Dr Terry Metherell; they felt he was a rat in October last year and he should not have served in the Cabinet, that he put his personal ambitions ahead of the Government's needs, desires and wishes at that time. As a consequence they have all taken a dive tonight. It is no wonder they have done so, because when the decisions were taken on 9th and 10th April - and the earlier ones which will come out in the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry - they were not canvassed with any one of them. The Minister for Health and Community Services, who is now in the Chamber, has been touted as a power and strength within the Liberal Party.
The Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann: But he would not stand for the seat of Davidson.
The Hon. I. M. MACDONALD: He certainly would not do that. He has made no public comment defending the appointment of Dr Metherell, and probably never will. It is to be hoped that in the next few weeks when this sordid mess called the Metherell affair is sorted out, the public of New South Wales, which is screaming about this matter, will gradually start to realise that this Government has lost its clothes, that this Government which pretended to be something different over the past four years has not been brought down by the white shoe brigade of the National Party, has not been brought down by some of its great financial mismanagement of this State, but has been brought down by its hypocrisy and the fact that it has lied to the public of New South Wales month in and month out.
The Hon. Dr MEREDITH BURGMANN [9.24]: This is the most serious case of corruption that has occurred in the State of New South Wales since the Askin days.
Is the Minister for Health and Community Services going to contribute to the debate? Is he going to defend his Premier? It is ridiculous to pretend that the public service can, or indeed should, be apolitical. The Labor view is that at least the heads of departments should be political appointments. However, regardless of one's views on the nature of the public service, there are procedures for obtaining employment in it, and those procedures must be followed. That they were not followed in the Metherell case is beyond doubt. First we were informed that Dr Metherell had been asked to fill a specially created position in the Environment Protection Authority; then we were told that he had formally applied for an advertised position in the Premier's Department, from which he was to be seconded to the Environment Protection Authority. Now we are told that Dr Metherell made a late application, was interviewed and given the job over all the other applicants, all on the same day. Assuming the latter version to be correct - I cannot imagine things could get any worse - virtually every procedure for gaining employment in the public service has been thrown out of the window. I should like to draw the attention of members opposite to a document called "Senior Executive Service Recruitment, Selection and Appointment Guidelines". It is a thick document of 50 or 60 pages. When one reads it one sees clearly set out guidelines for the appointment of people to the senior executive service.
I have served on a number of appointment panels in the public service as what they call the independent expert. I have been impressed by the procedure adopted by the public service for appointments. Strict guidelines are followed, many of which have grown from extremely good equal employment opportunity procedures. One of the guidelines is that one asks every applicant the same questions. That is done to ensure that no applicant gains an advantage by having certain questions asked. I suggest to the Government that the one question all applicants in the Terry Metherell case would have been asked was, "Are you Terry Metherell?" Only one of the applicants would have got it right. That was the procedure that was followed in order to appoint someone to the senior executive service of New South Wales. In this instance, first, Dr Metherell's application was accepted despite its having been made well after the advertised closing date and despite there being many other applicants. Second, Dr Metherell was then selected for the job before any of the other candidates had been interviewed, in spite of the strict guidelines stating that all such appointments are to be made on merit. Third, he was seconded to the Environment Protection Authority without the knowledge of the head of that authority, Dr Niland - at least I assume that to be the case, given Dr Niland's less than enthusiastic reaction to the news of Dr Metherell's appointment.
The practice when seconding a public servant to another department or authority is for the heads of both departments to agree to the secondment. There is no evidence that Dr Neil Shepherd, the head of the Office of the Environment, had any idea that he was to have foisted upon him the lovely Dr Metherell. It is clear that secondment occurred from the Premier's Department without the knowledge of the Office of the Environment or of the Environment Protection Authority. It is a strange situation in the New South Wales public service that a secondment of an officer from one government department to another can occur when only one of the departments knows that the secondment has taken place. Clearly the Metherell affair must be referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, and Greiner and Moore must stand aside. Mr Greiner, as one of the foremost critics of political appointments and a fearless crusader against all such forms of corruption, nepotism and jobs for the boys, established the Independent Commission Against Corruption with the aim of getting the Labor Party. It is about time the heat was turned up on the Liberal Party. It is my belief that the deal
made with the so-called Independent Tony Windsor should have been sufficient grounds for drawing the attention of the ICAC to the coalition. There is an opinion by a Queen's Counsel to that effect.
The Hon. J. F. Ryan: Is it the Hon. J. W. Shaw?
The Hon. Dr MEREDITH BURGMANN: No, it is not the Hon. J. W. Shaw. The Windsor agreement alone should have drawn the coalition to the attention of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. There can be no doubt that the Metherell affair warrants a full public investigation by the ICAC. The revelation today that the honourable member for Maitland is to be investigated by the ICAC throws new light on the Metherell affair. Those of us who were asking ourselves why the Premier had got himself into such a disastrous mess - was he even more politically stupid than everyone had supposed, or had his arrogance reached such breathtaking heights that he thought he could get away with it - those of us who were puzzled by this now know that Mr Greiner had to put a Liberal in the seat of Davidson, because when the truth comes out about Mr Blackmore the Liberals will lose Maitland too. I hate to think what will happen -
The Hon. J. F. Ryan: Is he guilty before proven, too, is he?
The Hon. Dr MEREDITH BURGMANN: He is guilty of stupidity, if nothing else. I hate to think what will happen when their other skeletons in the closet, that is Messrs Packard and Smiles, see the light of day. Will the Independent member for Manly receive a mysterious job offer as head of the Department of Health? Although one may recognise the public service to be every bit as much a political institution as any other, one also draws the line somewhere. That line has been well and truly crossed in the Metherell affair. This time it is not merely a case of rewarding an old mate, or providing a job for a former member who has lost his seat - in fact; Dr Metherell wanted to lose his seat; this time it appears that Mr Greiner has offered a public service job as an inducement to an Independent member of Parliament to give up his seat to the advantage of the Government. This is not jobs for the boys; this is a case of bribery and corruption. Metherell, by all accounts, even the Government's own account, was in the middle of discussion with the Government about taking up the job at the very same time as he changed his vote on the vital Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Bill and saved the Government's bacon. The indecent haste with which the Davidson by-election was called is proof of what I have been saying. The shortest campaign in recent history will ensure that no Independent candidate can establish a sufficient profile to give the people of Davidson the chance to express their anger at New South Wales' most blatant act of political corruption.
The Hon. J. F. Ryan: Most blatant?
The Hon. Dr MEREDITH BURGMANN: Yes. We still have presumably a few more months of the Greiner Government. Once again I will point to the recent so-called Neil Batt case in Tasmania. It is interesting that when lawyers looked at that case, then looked at the present case in New South Wales, they came to the very interesting conclusion that there was one distinction between what happened in Tasmania and what happened in New South Wales. The distinction was that the law in Tasmania is different. The law in Tasmania is that one cannot accept a secret commission. There is no law against secret commissions in New South Wales, which is the one thing that may save the Premier's bacon. It is a sorry state we have come to when the only way in which a Premier can escape the intention of the law is because there is no law on secret commissions in New South Wales. It is remarkably significant that no one on the Government benches has risen to defend the Premier on this occasion.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE [9.33]: The motion before the House, which has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition, states:
(1) Censures the Government over the appointment of Dr Terry Metherell to the Senior Executive Service;
(2) Calls upon the Hon. N. F. Greiner, M.P., Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Ethnic Affairs and the Hon. T. J. Moore, LL.B., M.P., Minister for the Environment to stand aside from their positions until the conclusion of any inquiry that might be conducted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption; and
(3) Calls upon the Government to exercise the Crown prerogative to terminate Dr Metherell's appointment without compensation.
The motion says, "of any inquiry that might be conducted by the Independent Commission Against Corruption" - "might be". It is obvious from the wording of the motion that the Opposition is working on the basis that there will not be an inquiry by anyone and particularly by the ICAC. The fact is that today we have unanimously passed the motion that was moved in the other place by the Premier and in this place by the Leader of the Government, the Minister for Police and Emergency Services which, for the record, states that the following matter be referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption:
To investigate the facts and circumstances relating to the resignation of Dr Terry Metherell from the Parliament of New South Wales, and the appointment of Dr Metherell to a position in the Senior Executive Service or the Public Service of New South Wales, with a view to determining:
And, hearing some of the previous speakers, this is obviously the crux of the matter:
(a) whether any corrupt conduct has occurred, is occurring or is about to occur; and
(b) whether any laws governing any public authority or public official need to be changed for the purpose of reducing the likelihood of the occurrence of corrupt conduct; and
(c) whether any methods of work, practices or procedures of any public authority or public official did or could allow, encourage or cause the occurrence of corrupt conduct.
In particular, the Commission is to consider whether it is desirable to proscribe or regulate the appointment of persons who have ceased to be Members of Parliament to positions in the public sector.
The motion moved by the Leader of the Opposition seems to be based on the fact that there has been no reference to the ICAC. The fact that there has been a reference to the ICAC, I believe, changes the whole tenure of this debate. Listening to some of the speakers, one would have thought that they already know the conclusions which the ICAC will come to. That they have presumed that the people who may be brought before the inquiry are guilty - not innocent before they are found guilty, but are in fact guilty - and it may even be argued that they are trying to pre-empt the actual outcome of the ICAC inquiry. The emotional statements and grandstanding in this place and in the other place may make it more difficult for the ICAC to conduct its inquiry. I am sure that when Mr Temby reads the transcript he will come to that conclusion. That is a great pity because it undermines the whole concept of the basis of the ICAC operating in this State.
I know that the Opposition has never been enthusiastic about the ICAC. It is a commission that was set up by the Government and it is ironic that the Premier and others will be appearing before it. Nevertheless, the reality is that the ICAC concept arose from a desire to do all that was possible to eliminate all forms of corruption in government and the public service .
I would ask some of the previous speakers, who are often very vocal about civil rights and natural justice, where all those high principles have gone. I have not even heard them referred to in this debate. We hear them referred to in other matters raised in this House regarding the activities of police or other groups where they are calling out for natural justice and civil rights. But apparently in this case those elements are not required or even referred to - they are completely ignored. As members of the House know, I have been monitoring the whole matter as much as anyone can who is not a member of the Government. As members know, the Premier asked me to speak to him. On 15th April I put to him that I was very unhappy with the whole situation and that at least, as other speakers have outlined, the current procedures that apply to public service positions should be restored. The position should be advertised; Dr Metherell, if he wished, could then apply and there should be an interview conducted by an independent panel, headed by someone such as Professor Niland. As honourable members know, during the weekend the Premier, after considering that approach and others, said that would be done.
The Premier admitted, and I said it was big of him, that he had made a political mistake - not a corrupt mistake but a political mistake - in misreading the public perception of this particular matter. He may have thought that because the Labor Party had done a similar thing so often and there had been very little outcry, there would be a similar response in this case. There was not. That is because the Premier has put himself on a high moral plain and has said to the people of this State that he would eliminate corruption, set up the Independent Commission Against Corruption and bring in standards for Ministers and so on. If there appears to be a lapse, obviously there is greater criticism by the public, as occurred in this case. The Premier has brought the wave of public criticism on his own head. I know he would be uncomfortable with the situation but it is a logical development of his efforts to lift the standard of political activity in this State. There was some confusion about statements concerning an earlier advertisement. I am not sure if the Premier was aware of that, but it seems to have clouded the issue. Once again the Premier asked me to speak to him and to indicate my views. I said that I believed we had reached a stage, with so much confusion in the media about the chronology and so on, that the matter should be referred to an independent judicial inquiry conducted by a judge such as Mr Justice Slattery who is the Chairman of the Parliamentary Remuneration Tribunal and who knows the political arena. Such an inquiry could have produced a report on the facts of the case - an unbiased, factual document to discuss in the Parliament. It may have been that from those facts the matter could have been referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. We now know, from the involvement and agreement of Mr Temby and the Leader of the Opposition and with the Premier's co-operation, that the matter has been referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
As I said earlier in my remarks on the reference to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, it is unfortunate that in the public mind there seems to be an implication of corruption when a matter is referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. It is for that reason that I would have preferred a judicial inquiry to establish the facts of the matter and, if the circumstances appeared to be serious or involve corrupt conduct, it could have been referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. I do not wish to go into the details of the Independent Commission
Against Corruption now because those issues have been canvassed in previous debates. The parliamentary Committee on the Independent Commission Against Corruption has been trying to work out ways of reducing the impact of headlines that give the impression that people are guilty simply because they are called before the commission. That has happened to members of Parliament in the other place and to one member of this House as well. Their reputations were damaged without justification merely because they were called before the commission. The media should treat with respect a person who appears before the Independent Commission Against Corruption and not imply guilt of corruption, so that an inquiry can be finalised and the commissioner can produce a report. On Anzac Day I issued a press release supporting the reference of this issue to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. I said that the inquiry would provide:
. . . the Parliament and the media with all the relevant facts relating to the Metherell appointment and resignation, as well as his voting pattern in Parliament . . .
The Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry into the Metherell debacle is, therefore, a very serious step as a number of political reputations and futures are now on the line.
I urged members of Parliament - and I hope they follow my advice - especially the Leader of the Opposition and the Leader of the Australian Democrats, to wait for the umpire's decision. I do not believe motions of censure or no confidence should be moved at this stage because they are premature and pre-empt the report of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. All is fair in love, war and politics and the Opposition is using the opportunity and exploiting the opportunity to the utmost. The last speaker in this debate gave a classic example of that exploitation. I accept that; that is politics. They will take every opportunity they can. However, the result is a political stunt, with political grandstanding, with emotional speeches that move further and further away from a calm and rational discussion and consideration of this serious matter that should be investigated by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in order that it can present a report to this Parliament.
Other honourable members have quoted at length from newspaper reports. Perhaps that is all that is available. However, with a matter as serious as this it is important to have an objective report such as that which the Independent Commission Against Corruption would produce so that members of Parliament have all the relevant facts before them. Then we could make a fair decision based on considerations of natural justice and the real public interest. Such a report would allow us to consider whether the matter justifies censure, which is a very serious step, or whether there is evidence to justify a motion of no confidence. I would be the first to support such moves if they are based on evidence adduced by an independent inquiry and not based on statements printed in newspapers, sometimes factual and sometimes not. Sometimes statements by journalists are loaded because of a journalist's political bias. From my experience I am developing a skill to distinguish the facts in a newspaper report. I know the views of most of the journalists. I know those that I treat with respect, and I read their articles. I know others who have a strong prejudice against the Liberal Party-National Party Government and who would favour a Labor Party Government; they find it difficult to be objective in their reporting. As a member of Parliament one of my jobs is to sort through those reports in order to establish the facts.
In this situation that is not easy, and it is for that reason I believe that all the documents should be placed before the Independent Commission Against Corruption in order for it to produce its report. I assume that the commission will have placed before it minutes of meetings and other documents of an evidentiary nature. The motion moved
by the Leader of the Opposition in this House refers not only to censuring the Government, which is a very serious matter and I gather is something that is unusual in this place, but seeks also the have the Premier and the Minister for the Environment stand aside. I am very concerned about that proposition. Some other honourable members have made the point that it is important for us to be concerned about the Metherell situation but that we should not do anything that damages the standing of this State. It is for that reason that I spoke about the real public interest. If a sledge-hammer is used, as is being done by this Opposition motion, it would seriously damage the standing of the State. It would certainly damage its triple-A credit rating, and in turn that could affect the economy, investment and jobs, so that we aggravate a situation that is under tremendous pressure because of the recession we are suffering in this State, not to mention the blowout in the deficit which is apparently now $1.5 billion. This State is in a very serious financial situation and I do not believe this House should take any action to jeopardise that by pre-empting the report of the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
It may be that these matters are not of concern to the Opposition. In some ways the Opposition would like the Government to collapse so that there can be a baton change or other action taken whereby the Opposition could become the Government and Mr Carr could become Premier. I suppose Opposition members almost smell blood in their nostrils and that is helping to magnify the Opposition's attitude to this matter. I believe it has affected its judgment on the issue. I sympathise with the third aspect of the motion which talks about terminating Dr Metherell's appointment without compensation. Honourable members now know that because of the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry, that Dr Metherell's position has virtually been frozen. He has been required to stand down, and I understand from media reports that the Premier would have preferred him to resign or to have sacked him. Dr Metherell will have the benefit of the doubt and will have to appear before the inquiry and to await the report. If the report recommends that the appointment should be cancelled without compensation, I would be happy with that. The Premier has admitted, and not tried to hide in any way, that a major factor in the appointment was a political consideration, certainly to restore to the Davidson electorate a member of the Liberal Party. Perhaps because of the Government's desire to achieve that end, its judgment has been affected.
The Premier and the Minister for the Environment have admitted that that decision affected their perceptions of how the public would view this matter. They felt they had reached a point of solving a very nasty situation of a blue ribbon Liberal seat being represented by a so-called Independent who was voting mostly with the Opposition in the other place and therefore going against the wishes of the electorate. The Government wanted to restore that seat to a Liberal member of Parliament to represent the electorate. It is our democratic process to restore representative government to the people. I note also that the report of the Independent Commission Against Corruption will be produced in accordance with the Act. The Independent Commission Against Corruption is given the power in part 3 to carry out investigations into corrupt conduct. This Act was drafted by the Greiner Government and it is very comprehensive in its terminology. Section 8(2) reads:
Corrupt conduct is also any conduct of any person (whether or not a public official) that adversely affects or that could adversely affect, either directly or indirectly, the exercise of official functions by any public official, any group or body of public officials or any public authority and which could involve any of the following matters:
A whole range of matters is then listed, a number of which relate to situations that would affect the by-election in Davidson to be held this coming Saturday. The principal functions of the commission are set out in section 13. Subsection (2) reads:
The principal functions of the Commission are as follows:
(a) to investigate any allegation or complaint that, or any circumstances which in the Commission's opinion imply that:
(ii) conduct liable to allow, encourage or cause the occurrence of corrupt conduct; or
(iii) conduct connected with corrupt conduct,
may have occurred, may be occurring or may be about to occur;
It then sets out further functions of the commission. Section 13(5) sets out the sorts of findings the commission can present to this Parliament. Those findings include:
(a) findings that particular persons have engaged, are engaged or are about to engage in corrupt conduct;
(b) opinions as to whether consideration should or should not be given to the prosecution or the taking of other action against particular persons;
I believe referring this matter to the Independent Commission Against Corruption for inquiry is a very serious step. As I said, the political futures and reputations of a number of people are now very much on the line, including the Premier, the Minister for the Environment and Dr Metherell. Perhaps other people will be bought before the inquiry to give evidence. Now that the dust has settled more rational statements are being made by some sections of the mass media. There is a very good report by Padraic P. McGuinness headed "Metherell mania masks real reforms", which reads:
It is difficult not to have some sympathy for the description by the Leader of the National Party in NSW, Wal Murray, of the treatment of the Metherell affair as "a beat-up of enormous proportions".
Of course, this exercise in bungled political patronage was inexcusably stupid and might have been worse. Just how bad it was will be determined by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption over the next week or two, and just what the public, or at least that section of it in the NSW electorate of Davidson, Mr Metherell's former electorate, really thinks about it will be revealed next Saturday. But I at least have had some difficulty in descrying evidence of the kind of outraged public outcry which is asserted by most of the media to exist."
It has been said that if the Labor Party had been in this situation it would have done the same thing but it would have done it with far more skill.
The Hon. D. J. Gay: It has had more practice.
Reverend the Hon. F. J. NILE: It has had more practice too. It may also have received a more sympathetic response from the mass media. Obviously the Opposition has squeezed and is squeezing every drop of blood out of this situation. I know that every time Mr Carr spoke he made strong statements. At the end of his statement he would say something like this: "It all depends now what the Reverend Fred Nile is going to do. Will he make the moral decision or not? Everyone should ask him what he is going to do". So 20 or 30 journalists would instantly contact me for comments, and obviously I would have to make some response. That would create more debate.
Mr Carr would make another statement and so on. Mr Carr should get top marks for being so skilful in manipulating the media and, in a sense, magnifying the whole matter, perhaps out of proportion. That is not to say that there was not bungling or political manoeuvring to achieve a certain purpose by the Government. If I were the Premier I would not take the course the Premier did. But I know in this State both sides of politics make these sorts of decisions. To that extent I believe those decisions - this one and others made by the Opposition when they were in government - were immoral. Perhaps it is difficult to maintain morality in government. I would like to see us try to do so. At least referring the matter to the Independent Commission Against Corruption is a step in that direction. I believe this House should wait for the Independent Commission Against Corruption's report and then we can make a decision on whether there should be a censure motion, a no confidence motion, or what decision should be taken by this House in its undoubted wisdom.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES [9.58]: At the outset I would like to ask why not one single member of the Liberal Party has stood up in this Chamber and defended the Premier and the Hon. Tim Moore. At present only two Liberal members and three National Party members are sitting on the benches opposite me. Not one Liberal Party or National Party member has stood up and defended the Premier. It seems to me that the members of the Government in this House have abandoned their leader, which I think is quite disgraceful. One person has been instructed to speak on behalf of the Premier, the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, who no doubt will be giving evidence himself at the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry.
The Hon. D. J. Gay: I will put my support for the Premier as well.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: We have one volunteer. The Hon. D. J. Gay has decided he will support the Premier. He is the only member, apart from the Minister, who is willing to support the Premier in this Chamber, and he had to be goaded into it. It certainly is outrageous. I would not want that team behind me. Frankly, I was astounded at this Government's handling of the Terry Metherell affair. What astounds me is that Nick Greiner, Tim Moore or Terry Metherell did not seem to be aware that there would be a reaction to Terry Metherell's appointment on the same day that he resigned from the Parliament. One would not have to be a clairvoyant to be aware that the public would believe Terry Metherell had been bought in order to give the seat back to the Government to maintain its numbers and the vote in the lower House. Nick Greiner admitted that this was a political appointment. Just because he admitted that it was a political appointment it does not mean it was the right thing to do. Clearly, it was not the right thing to do; it could never have been the right thing to do.
It is astounding that the Government is entirely out of touch with public opinion. Nick Greiner and his Ministers failed to realise that what was acceptable in 1987, 1988 or prior to that time simply is no longer acceptable in 1992. We are in the midst of a communications revolution. Information is passed, digested and integrated at a far greater rate than ever before in human history. This means that people's attitudes and opinions change at a faster rate than ever before. Thus there could be a massive change in public opinion in a matter of weeks. We have only to turn our minds back to April, May and June in 1989 to see the massive coverage received at that time of the environment, the greenhouse effect, the ozone layer and so on. As a result of that massive coverage there was an almost instant tripling of public concern for the environment. Before then concern for the environment was about 6 per cent or 7 per cent but that concern went up to about 21 per cent. Though it has now fallen back as a result of lack of further massive publicity there has been a shift in public opinion on
environmental matters. Likewise there has been a tremendous shift in public opinion and attitudes on ethics and morality, in particular concerning the behaviour of business people, police and politicians. A number of high flyers such as Alan Bond, Christopher Skase and George Herscu have crashed. In fact, most of our high profile business people from the 1980s are now close to bankruptcy. In the past two years public opinion on the behaviour of the banks has changed dramatically.
The Government and the Premier have been responsible for a considerable shift in public opinion. The Premier set himself up as the head of a so-called squeaky clean Government. He said that there would be no more jobs for the boys and, presumably, the girls. He set up the Independent Commission Against Corruption. He decided that his Ministers should have a strict code of conduct. The Premier, who set the pace in clean government, should now take the opprobrium which is being heaped upon him. Jimmy and Tammy Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart set themselves up in the United States of America as holier than thou Christians. Because they set themselves up so high the crash was that much greater. This is what happened to the Premier. He cannot validly hark back to previous eras; the climate has now changed. Today people expect much more from their members of Parliament. They expect better ethical and moral conduct than they did before. Times have changed and this Premier has helped to change them. In a sense he has been hoist with his own petard. He set up the Independent Commission Against Corruption and the first major figure to be investigated was the Deputy Premier. Now it is the Premier himself. He has only himself to blame. Nick Greiner and his Ministers are blissfully unaware of these major shifts in public opinion. Therefore, they were taken by surprise at the enormous backlash from the media and the public on the appointment of Terry Metherell to a senior executive service job - a job which bypassed all the normal procedures and which was seen by the media and the public to be buying him out of his seat of Davidson.
Even if the Independent Commission Against Corruption finds that there is insufficient evidence to charge anyone with corruption, there is no question that the public perception and the media perception is that this was a corrupt, immoral and unethical act by the Government and the Premier, Nick Greiner. On more than one occasion Nick Greiner said that the buck stops with him. Therefore, he has to take responsibility for what has happened and for the public reaction against his Government and the Liberal Party. The error is compounded in that Terry Metherell caused tremendous waves by his handling of the education portfolio. All honourable members would remember the 50,000 teachers and parents who gathered in the Domain and demonstrated outside Parliament. Terry Metherell, as a result of his policies, caused the biggest demonstration since the Vietnam War. Many people in the Liberal Party were outraged by his resignation from that party to become an Independent, particularly when he had been responsible for the near loss of government by the Liberty-National coalition at the last State election. There is no doubt that the closeness of the last election was caused, to a considerable degree, by the backlash from Terry Metherell's education policies.
Members of the Liberal Party and the media were outraged that the man who had caused the Government so many problems and the near loss of government should then resign his seat, which he had won as a Liberal Party member, to sit on the crossbenches and then proceed to tip a bucket over the Government and vote against it on a number of important issues. I cannot understand why the Premier and his Ministers could not see why the appointment of this man, who had caused such outrage amongst teachers, parents and members of the Liberal Party and the media, once more would not cause a tremendous backlash. Terry Metherell was a pariah amongst his former colleagues and amongst members of the Liberal Party in New South Wales. He was also
a pariah on the liberal side of politics. It was then all the more outrageous that the man who had been perceived to cause so much damage to the education system and who had caused actual damage to the Liberal Party should be rewarded for his efforts with a plum $110,000 a year sinecure. What compounded that outrage was the fact that he was not only rewarded with this highly paid job for having betrayed the Liberal Party and having upset many voters in New South Wales; he was also able to bypass the normal procedures of applying for a job, being interviewed and being chosen by a proper panel. The whole system was bypassed to rush him into this senior executive service position without giving other people in the community a chance to apply for the same position.
I have spoken to someone who replied to this advertisement on 14th March. This applicant was told that there were no jobs available and that all the SES was doing was building up its database to get a profile of people who could then be fitted to jobs as they became available. This person was also told that the SES was only casting the net to find people suitable for short-term appointments. Someone must have been lying if Terry Metherell responded to that advertisement and was given a job when the Premier's Department told at least one applicant, and possibly more, that no jobs were available. Does this mean that the Premier authorised these lies from his own department or was he unaware that lies were being told? Was it a fact that no lie was told, that no jobs were available and that this advertisement was inserted in the newspapers and used merely as a device to regularise Terry Metherell's appointment? Of course, all honourable members know that the appointment was made regardless of whether Terry Metherell responded to that advertisement. It is most likely that the response to the advertisement was a formality to make it appear that the whole thing was above board. In fact, it may have been better if Terry Metherell had not made an application in response to that advertisement because clearly it was a charade.
On 20th February, at the time of the Queen's visit, Terry Metherell asked me to look out for a house for him and Louise at Possum Creek. It was quite clear - he made no bones about it - that he was intending to leave Parliament. It is obvious that he would not have been able to service his electorate of Davidson from Possum Creek, which is 800 kilometres north of Parliament House. I understand also that he mentioned he wanted out at a breakfast meeting held at Warringah Shire Council chambers. Evidently, he mentioned this to his friend Brad Hazzard. It is possible that this was the trigger for his eventual appointment to this SES position. Perhaps Brad Hazzard went to see his friend - and Terry Metherell's friend - Tim Moore. Tim Moore, being a numbers man and a real political animal, would have jumped at the opportunity of finding a position for his bushwalking friend Terry Metherell in order not only to look after his friend but also to regain the seat of Davidson. It is unfortunate that this Government, in its rush and eagerness to find Terry Metherell a position and to give him a secure job and income after he left Parliament, created the impression that this was a corrupt act.
I am firmly of the belief that Terry Metherell had decided to leave Parliament. It is obvious that he needed a job to provide for him, his wife and his expected son. Anyone in that position wanting to provide for his or her family would jump at the opportunity of a well-paid job, whether it be in the SES or anywhere else. The question is whether the job offer precipitated his leaving Parliament or whether he would have left Parliament at exactly the same time regardless of whether or not he had been given that job. Obviously that is a matter of speculation. Only Terry Metherell would be able to tell us whether or not he would have left Parliament on that day if he had not been offered the job. My view is that Terry Metherell would not have left Parliament so precipitately if he had not found a suitable position. Though he is due to receive a substantial superannuation payout, in my view it is highly unlikely, taking into account
his current lifestyle, that he would be able to live on that payout alone. Very soon he will have a son to raise and perhaps more children after that. It is obvious that he would need some kind of income over and above his superannuation to maintain his lifestyle. Whether or not Terry Metherell was serious about moving to Possum Creek is another matter. He definitely asked me to look out for a place for him. If he had done that there would have been little likelihood of him finding a job with anything like the income of the SES position.
The very fact that he was thinking about moving to Possum Creek really means that he was not therefore depending on a job as highly paid as the one he managed to acquire. If Terry Metherell was induced to leave Parliament at an earlier date than he would have otherwise left by virtue of this job offer, I believe this would be a very serious matter indeed. The Government, including Nick Greiner himself, would have known it was almost inevitable that it would regain the seat of Davidson and, therefore, maintain the Liberal Party-National Party Government in power for a longer period or at least make the Government more secure; it would have known it would have had a much greater chance of success in votes on controversial legislation. Honourable members saw what happened to Edmund Rouse in Tasmania when he attempted to bribe a Labor Party member to bring down the Labor Government. That was a clear-cut case of corruption, and Edmund Rouse was gaoled as a result. Though Terry Metherell's resignation from Parliament did not have the capacity to cause a change of government immediately, it is not impossible that Terry Metherell at some point would have supported a motion of confidence. One would remember that he was quite adamant at the time he became an Independent that the other Independents - John Hatton, Clover Moore and Peter Macdonald - should not lock themselves into this agreement with the Government so that they were unable to vote on a motion of no confidence except in the most exceptional circumstances.
Terry Metherell deliberately did not lock himself into an agreement with the Government and was, therefore, free to vote against the Government on a motion of no confidence. Obviously, if he was in the position of negotiating with the Government for a highly paid job, it would have been unlikely that he would have felt the inclination to vote on a motion of no confidence to bring down the Government. There is the question of whether or not he changed his vote or changed his position, for example, on the Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Bill. I remember at the time that those who were opposed to the bill were open-mouthed in amazement at Terry Metherell's change of attitude towards the legislation. In reading through Hansard one can see that his attitude towards the Government was certainly very much more moderate than it had been before. Indeed, during the debate Terry Metherell praised the Government on a number of occasions. I remember someone remarking to me that he felt something was amiss and that somehow Terry Metherell had caved in or, as one person put it, "He has sold us out". It was certainly remarked upon by many people at the time of the debate on the provisions in the Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Bill that Terry Metherell had, for some curious reason, changed his opinion, his vote and his attitude. He had clearly shifted towards the Government and was taking a very much more moderate line towards the Government.
It would perhaps be difficult to prove that Terry Metherell had adopted this much more moderate stance and voted with the Government on two or three divisions, even though he did express reservations during the debate about doing so and that this was caused by his job offer. It would seem to me that subconsciously, or consciously, if one were in the position of being offered a highly lucrative job with the Minister for the Environment - his friend Tim Moore - one would surely take a more moderate view and not wish to jeopardise that appointment. It is my view that Terry Metherell did change
his stance and his attitude. Whether this can be put down to the fact that he had been offered a $110,000 a year job is a matter for speculation. One can only try to discover what was in the mind of Terry Metherell at the time he changed his view. There is no doubt in my view that, as a result of his shift in his attitude towards the Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Bill, the environment of this State has suffered. He also, of course, abandoned several important environment bills at the same time. He even admits that in his own debate at the Committee stage of the bill that he felt uncomfortable at one point in voting with the Government but nevertheless still voted with the Government. One can read that in Hansard.
Did Tim Moore and Nick Greiner buy Terry Metherell's change of attitude and change of vote? Although Terry Metherell would naturally deny that, I believe he was inevitably influenced by the fact that he was in the middle of negotiations with the Government on this lucrative position in the Premier's Department. I have noticed since that time that he has been very much more moderate when talking about the Premier and the Government, and this can be brought about only by the fact that he is now working in the Premier's Department. Even if a case or corruption could not be proved in a court of law, it is clear to me that there was a definite corruption of the process. In my view, Terry Metherell should have resigned from Parliament before ever having negotiated a job, whether in the Premier's Department or any job as a result of negotiations with Government Ministers or the Premier. He should never have left himself open to charges of corrupt conduct and the public perception that he was bought out of his seat of Davidson. It was quite astounding that he resigned from Parliament the same day that he was offered the job. It was astounding that he applied for the job through an advertisement when other people who applied were told there were no jobs available and that he applied many days after the closing date of the advertisement. It is astounding that he was given the job without proper interviews, and it was astounding that he was shifted directly to a newly created position with the Environment Protection Authority.
No matter whether Nick Greiner, Tim Moore and Terry Metherell are all cleared by the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry, they will never be cleared by the media or by very many members of the public, including former Liberal voters. I should like to point out that it is correct and proper for this matter to be debated in this Parliament. This Premier has clearly abused and damaged the parliamentary system by his actions, and therefore Parliament should be able to debate the issue. Whether or not there was actually corruption, certain facts are clear, and no doubt many more facts will become clearer in the days ahead. The fact is that Terry Metherell was negotiating a highly paid job while he was a member of Parliament; he did moderate his position on a very important bill; he did apply for the job after the closing date on the advertisement; other people who applied were told that no jobs were available, and they have not yet been replied to or interviewed; he resigned his seat on the same day as being offered the job. Those facts alone, regardless of any new facts that may come to light in the future, indicate very bad conduct on the part of the Premier and his Ministers. They should have known better because they were dealing with a man who has changed his mind quite radically on more than one occasion and can only be regarded by some as a maverick. Obviously, Terry Metherell had nothing to lose so far as the Liberal Party went. He had done as much damage as one man could have done to the Liberal Party. Inadvertently, no doubt, he has caused considerably more damage to the party than he caused as a result of his policies as education Minister and as a result of his resignation as a member of the Liberal Party.
Nick Greiner really deserves the fall-out from this for having rewarded a man who was regarded as a traitor by so many of his parliamentary colleagues and members of his own party with a plum job. He deserves whatever fate comes to him as a result
of this. Nick Greiner has brought the Liberal Party of New South Wales into grave disrepute. If he can offer such a plum job to someone who has betrayed his colleagues and bought the party close to electoral defeat, what treatment can those who have been loyal expect? One can hardly get better treatment than being offered a $110,000 a year job, plus, of course, the superannuation package that came as a result of his resignation from Parliament. All those loyal members and Ministers who have worked so hard have a right to feel very aggrieved by the actions of this Premier. It was a sordid deal at best and a grossly corrupt deal at worst. Because of his actions I do not believe that Nick Greiner is fit either to remain Premier or to be head of the Liberal Party. He has done considerable damage to his own party, to his party's prospects of retaining government at the next election and to John Hewson's chances of becoming Prime Minister. If Nick Greiner were a truly honourable man, he would resign both as Premier and as a member of Parliament. He made it clear to one of his close friends just before the last election that he intended to get out of politics within 18 months. That 18 months falls due in just a few months time. I think he should stick to that promise - if he does, one of the few he will have stuck to - and go into the private sector where he will cause damage both to the institution of Parliament and to the people of this State as a result of his financial policies.
One should remember that the debt of this State has blown out enormously since Nick Greiner became Premier. Last year the State had a $1 billion deficit; this year it will have a $1.5 billion deficit, and the Premier is budgeting for a $1.5 billion deficit next year. He will have caused the State debt to blow out by $4 billion in three years. That will be alleviated somewhat by the sale of valuable assets belonging to the people of New South Wales. Though this will disguise the budget deficit, it will do nothing to alleviate the problem. When a government sells valuable assets such as the GIO, the State loses the income from the GIO for ever. The short-term reduction in the budget deficit is a long-term loss of revenue and of a major asset. Nick Greiner does not have a good record as a manager. He made an absolute mess of the running of the White River group of companies. That can be seen in the report printed on 21st March, 1985, of the Corporate Affairs Commission, concerning an investigation into certain affairs of the White River group of companies.
It is clear in the report that the investigators found that there were seven breaches of duties by directors under the Companies Act at that time - six failures to use reasonable diligence and one failure to act honestly. So one can say that this document reveals that the Premier breached his duties as a director of his group of companies many years ago. He proved at that time that he was not a good manager. He is now proving it once more. The apparent breaches of duties by directors are set out on pages 48 and 49 of the Corporate Affairs Commission report. One only has to read the report to see that a number of serious questions remain unanswered as a result of Nick Greiner's handling of his own companies. He has done exactly the same to this State as he did to his father's companies. If this State were a private company, it would now be in liquidation. We can no longer afford to have Nick Greiner as Premier of this State. The Minister for Police and Emergency Services seems to be unaware that under this Premier the State has a deficit of $4 billion in three years. Does he think that is a good thing?
The Hon. E. P. Pickering: The honourable member demonstrates a very shallow understanding of the budget deficit.
The Hon. R. S. L. JONES: It is $4 billion of taxpayers' money - $2,000 a family added in three years to the debt of this State. If Mr Greiner has the interests of the Liberal Party at heart he will undoubtedly resign and hand over his premiership to
one of his colleagues. If he is clever, he will resign both his premiership and his seat during the winter recess at the same time as Wal Murray resigns and then perhaps encourage his friend the Hon. J. P. Hannaford to vie for the seat. It is not impossible that the Liberal Party members of Nick Greiner's electorate will find the Hon. J. P. Hannaford more acceptable than did the party members in John Dowd's electorate. If this Government manages to avoid a successful no confidence motion during the next few weeks, it will have to achieve rapid reconstruction for the next State election. No matter what happens, I do not believe that the Government, certainly as it is now constituted, can remain in office for more than a few months. It really does need a major shakeup.
The Liberal Party and National Party need considerable new blood. It will be good to see Wal Murray go and hopefully the new leader of the National Party will be someone much younger and more up to date with the times and aspirations of the electorate and who will not stuff up as often as Wal has. The old guard will have to be thrown out and replaced with new, younger people who are more in touch with the electorate and more environmentally aware. I would be happy to have a new election to allow the people of New South Wales to decide what complexion of government they want. Clearly there is discontentment with the current situation and although voters are reluctant to go to the polls too frequently, this is one occasion where they would be happy to do so to resolve the current situation. It would be also beneficial to this Chamber because it would once again become a genuine House of review and not merely the sleepy hollow it is at present. It is almost a certainty that Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile will not hold the balance of power after the next election. Clearly this Government is crippled and will remain crippled under the present leadership. Nick Greiner and several of his Ministers should resign and allow reconstruction of the Government, or there will be a successful vote of no confidence or an early election. Even with the passing of the fixed term legislation, allowance is made for an early election. I have pointed out the loopholes in that legislation and there could still be an early election. Obviously something must be done. The Government of this State is in paralysis and it is not to the benefit of the people of New South Wales to have a paralysed government. We should let the people decide what should be done about this situation.
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING (Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Vice-President of the Executive Council) [10.21]: As I listened to the Leader of the Opposition move this censure motion I was immediately reminded that here was a man who was criticising the Premier of New South Wales by way of a very important censure motion for what most of us would refer to as a political appointment in the State of New South Wales. This man not so long ago was politically appointed, having lost his seat in Parliament, to the office of the then Premier of New South Wales, the Hon. Barrie Unsworth. I did not detect a note of embarrassment on behalf of the Leader of the Opposition, and that seemed to indicate how thick a hide he has. I could spend quite some time referring to the history of political appointments in this State. I do not intend to do so but I shall mention names so that they can be brought quickly to mind, without necessarily canvassing the circumstances.
I commence with the Leader of the Opposition and John Ducker. Brother Ducker was appointed by Premier Wran as Chairman of the Public Service Board, when he was a member of this House, at a salary of $110,000 a year. He was still in Parliament, and I thought that was an office of profit under the Crown. Then there was, of course, Phil O'Neill, Peter Fitzgerald and Brian Bannon. Brian Bannon was induced to leave his seat so that a member of the Legislative Council, the Hon. Barrie Unsworth, could become a member of the right House and then Premier of New South Wales. Is it suggested that that was not a political inducement in order to provide a political result for
the Labor Party? That was perfectly okay. Tom Webster, Alan Stewart, Kath Anderson, Jack Renshaw, Jack Ferguson, Eric Bedford, Kevin Stewart, Al Grassby, Don Burton, Eddie Britt, Fred Miller, Peter McMahon, Lindsay Gordon, Roger Degen, Les McMahon, Peter Cox, Bill Robb and Ralph Brading. I now hasten to make a point. This House will concede that I do not enter this House and insult its intelligence. I do not read that list of names to this House to suggest in some way that two wrongs make a right. That would be an insult to this House and I do not do it.
The Hon. I. M. Macdonald: Well why is the Minister doing it?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: The honourable member opposite asks why I am doing it if not to argue that two wrongs make a right. I well recall when I was sitting on the Opposition benches that one of these appointments was being debated. I remember the late Hon. Paul Landa rose where I now stand and said as part of his reply that so far as he was concerned as a Minister of the Wran Government, membership of the Australian Labor Party would never be a bar to holding high office in this State, and he worked hard at it. Part of the problem presently facing the Greiner Government on this particular issue is that there is in fact a genuine misunderstanding of the Premier's attitude towards appointments of politicians and politically affected people in the State of New South Wales. The connotation is picked up by the media, used broadly and rarely refined or rebuked, that the Government in the past has said no jobs for the boys. The term jobs for the boys has the connotation that if one is linked politically one cannot obtain a job in the public sector or a job associated with government.
That is a simplistic view of what we, in Government, are supposed to stand for, as we espoused in Opposition. That is not exactly what the Premier of New South Wales espoused when he was Leader of the Opposition. In the many years I sat in this House in Opposition the question of jobs for the boys was a matter of grave concern to the State of New South Wales because it happened pretty frequently and was often the cause of debate and discussion. And they were jobs for the boys. I shall refer to what the then Leader of the Opposition said at that time with regard to what our attitude in Government would be on this matter. On 25th March, 1985, the now Premier of New South Wales, as Leader of the Opposition, spoke to a seminar in Canberra organised by the ACT division of the Royal Australian Institute of Public Administration on the topic "Strategic Leadership in Modern Government". I shall quote what Mr Greiner said then and what his position has been ever since. Towards the end of that address Mr Greiner stated:
I remain firm in my commitment that senior public service appointments should be made to the individual best qualified for the job, and not according to ideological purity or party loyalty.
In my mind the creation of a Senior Executive Service provides greater scope for appointing the right people to the right jobs, and it is an initiative to which the NSW Coalition is committed.
This does not mean that appointees are required to be lacking in political views, or devoid of policy initiative. David Hill is a clear example of a political appointee who, subject to the obvious assurances of loyalty and so forth, would be acceptable to a future Coalition Government.
Whatever his personal views, he has indicated his capacity to manage, and has proven his entitlement to the position he holds on his merits.
That was the position taken by the then Leader of the Opposition, not a position that can be simply summed up with the throw away line "No jobs for the boys". He was talking about appointing people who were meritorious and capable of performing the job to which they were appointed. I shall not go through this list of people who were appointed
by the previous Labor Government but I would be very surprised if I could find one among the names I read to the Parliament a moment ago who was more qualified for the position he took than Dr Terry Metherell was for the position to which he was appointed. Undoubtedly Dr Terry Metherell is, first, well qualified academically. It is also beyond doubt that Dr Terry Metherell has always been a person who has exhibited and taken a keen interest in matters dealing with the environment. It is clear that Dr Metherell would be a keen exponent of protection of the environment. The people I have mentioned were offered jobs.
The Hon. I. M. Macdonald: What job did Jack Ferguson get? The Minister mentioned his name but has not explained that.
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: He was appointed to the Darling Harbour Board in 1984. Let me first clear away the misapprehension of members opposite that we expounded when in opposition and have maintained in government a simplistic view about appointing people to jobs for the boys. We have talked consistently about appointing people who are capable of carrying out their duties. In government we have made a number of appointments of people who could be described as political opponents of this Government. We have given them jobs, senior jobs, because of their capacity. I remember the dauntingly beautiful Donna McKenna who only recently was appointed by this Government to a most prestigious position. Clearly she was not one of ours politically. She sat in the gallery on that side of the House night after night during debate on the Industrial Relations Bill. Nevertheless, she was appointed by this Government to an important job. Neville Wran is another example. An offer was made recently to Bob Hawke, which he knocked back. That is another good example of someone who was eminently suitable and capable of doing the job. Kath Anderson is another one.
The PRESIDENT: Order! The level of interjection is becoming such that it is difficult for Hansard and me to hear the Minister.
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: George Paciullo is another example. I appointed him. Let me deal with the second element of the motion, which is that the Premier and the Minister for the Environment, Mr Moore, should stand down. It has been suggested by a number of honourable members that Neville Wran, when Premier of New South Wales, stood down and that the present Premier should follow suit. Let me make the point that there are great differences between the two situations.
The Hon. J. R. Johnson: Yes, one has principle and one has not.
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: That is simply not true. Let me make the point that a very specific, and I might add very serious, allegation had been made against Premier Wran which resulted in the appointment of a royal commission. Anyone who was in opposition for the twelve years I served as a member of the Opposition will know how serious things had to get in New South Wales before a royal commission was appointed. Neville Wran, with the numbers in both Houses, toughed out more situations in this State than most people have had breakfasts. He did so because he had no worries about the numbers and simply toughed out corruption charge after corruption charge levelled not only at him but at his Ministers and members of his Government. He toughed it out. But on this occasion the heat got so bad that he had to have a royal commission. As a Premier facing the impact of a royal commission, it was obvious he had to devote his energies to that royal commission. By his own admission Premier Wran said that he could not carry out his responsibilities and adequately protect himself before the royal commission. For those reasons, by force of circumstances, he was
required to stand down. Such is not the case with Premier Greiner or Minister Moore. If members opposite do not believe me, they should have regard to what was said in the editorial in the Australian today. The editorial is headed "Why Greiner should not stand down". I quote from it in part:
Mr Greiner's standing down is neither necessary nor in the best interests of the State.
Later the editorial continued:
The chief argument was Mr Carr's assertion that the standing down of a former Labor premier Mr Neville Wran served as a precedent. It does not. More relevant is the fact that Dr Metherell has been stood down for the duration of the inquiry.
That point was made valuably by Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile. Further on the editorial said:
Nonetheless, partly mollified by this action, the Independents now seem inclined to the proper view that while the Independent Commission Against Corruption investigates the Metherell appointment, the Premier can and should attend to the business of government.
That puts that matter to rest. This evening I have been interested to note that a number of members opposite have made comments to the effect that blind Freddy or the drover's dog could have anticipated what would have happened in regard to this appointment. I make the observation that in politics it is extremely easy to have a view in hindsight. That is the simplest thing in the world. Many of my parliamentary colleagues on both sides of the House have become extraordinarily bright as soon as they had hindsight. I have been involved in an awful lot of decision-making processes when one wondered what would be the impact of those decisions. In 16 years I have been amazed at the impact of those decisions. All those armchair generals opposite should recall that they now have the benefit of hindsight. I suspect, given the experience they have of making political appointments in this State, that they would not have turned a grey hair had they known about this beforehand and had it not become the feeding frenzy of the media. There is no doubt that this issue has been a monumental media beat-up. The Australian today picked up the point quite accurately. The sad thing is that this motion has allowed some members - and I am disappointed about this - particularly the Hon. R. S. L. Jones, to make the most scathing, unfounded and ill-advised attacks on the Premier generally. I was amazed to hear the Hon. R. S. L. Jones make the comment that the Hon. Nick Greiner has been a bad manager. I have to say that I do not know of any responsible political commentator in this nation who does not freely recognise that the Hon. Nick Greiner has been a good manager. Even members opposite freely concede that. For the Hon. R. S. L. Jones to suggest otherwise shows his utter lack of knowledge. He talked about budget deficits. It sounded terrible. He fails to understand that when States are evaluated by people such as Moody's, one of the things measured is the ratio -
The Hon. J. R. Johnson: The triple-A rating was saved by Bob Carr.
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: The honourable member has become the resident comedian in this House. What the honourable member ought to appreciate is that the ratio of the debts that the State has incurred to the income of the State is a very significant ratio in determining whether or not the State maintains its triple-A rating, and this State has maintained its triple-A rating. The only other State in the Commonwealth to do so was Queensland and it maintained it because of the good administration, in fiscal terms, of the Bjelke-Petersen Government. I will not allow the Hon. R. S. L. Jones to come in here this evening and take a gratuitous swipe at the Premier of New South Wales
and say in no uncertain terms that he is a bad manager because the facts do not line up with that statement. How does he explain bottom line statements that the March unemployment figure in New South Wales was the lowest unemployment rate for any Australian State - 9.4 per cent compared with the national, average of 10.5? That is good management. New South Wales is the only State in the Commonwealth with an unemployment figure of less than 10 per cent. That is good management.
The Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann: What about the participation rates?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: The honourable member wants a further evaluation of unemployment. In March New South Wales was the only State to show an increase in employment - a boost of 12,000 jobs. Twelve thousand jobs is a lot of jobs. It is a lot of people who are going home at night able to buy food, able to pay their rent and feel a little secure. It is 12,000 people who are not facing the bleak misery of being unemployed. If the Opposition does not like the March figure, listen to this figure: of the 35,000 jobs created in this nation in the last five months, 31,000 were created in New South Wales. That is good management. If the Hon. R. S. L. Jones does not think that is good management then he ought to be unemployed for a while to give him a taste of what bad management is. After the statements he made in this House he ought to be unemployed. This State maintains its triple-A rating.
The PRESIDENT: Order! Honourable members who are given to interjecting should appreciate that if everybody is interjecting, nobody has the benefit of hearing the wit of their interjection.
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: The Government will vote against this motion. It will do so for proper and logical reasons, beyond the matters that I have already put. The logical reason is this: when an allegation is made in this State about official corruption that allegation is referred to the ICAC. That did not occur when members opposite were in government. The ICAC did not exist.
The Hon. Dr Meredith Burgmann: What about Bob Askin's day? That would have been interesting.
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: The Opposition talked about freedom of information but never did anything about it. If someone complains today that an official in this State has acted corruptly, that complaint is referred to the ICAC. In this case, to make absolutely certain of it, a motion was passed by both Houses of Parliament so that under the Act the Commission must investigate the matter - no discretion - and must report back. I do not think the Leader of the Opposition will suggest for one minute that the ICAC is, first of all, not an independent commission and, second, is not staffed by competent and professional investigators. Silence across the way. What a difference between the way in which the Government performs its public tasks and responsibilities and the way in which Neville Wran used to tough out every single allegation that was ever made. I made a few of them myself and I suffered some of the death threats that come from making those sorts of allegations.
The Hon. J. R. Johnson: What about Joe Reardon? How much did the allegations the Government made about Joe cost it?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: The Government did not make an allegation; it made a statement of fact. He was a political appointee to the New South Wales Government. That motion has been successfully passed by this Parliament, and I would
have thought that natural justice, about which we hear so often from members opposite, would dictate that when the umpire's decision is before the community that it is appropriate for this House to debate the result. If the ICAC was to report, in effect, that no improper action had been taken, then I doubt anyone would feel the need for that report to be debated. But if, in fact, the ICAC report says other than that, I assure the House that this Parliament will debate that report shortly after it is presented.
The Hon. Ann Symonds: Where will Terry be when all this is happening?
The Hon. E. P. PICKERING: He stood aside, as the honourable member well knows. That, surely, is the proper way to go about resolving this matter. An allegation has been made. An allegation has been denied. The allegation will now be comprehensively investigated, and after the independent investigation has been conducted and reported on this House will be in a comprehensive position to debate the matter with knowledge, not with political hysteria. I can understand the Opposition making political capital out of this issue; I did it once or twice myself. In the days when I had to make political capital it was the only weapon available. There was no Independent Commission Against Corruption; there was no mechanism for proper examination of anything. Cover up was the order of the day. This State was known universally as the State of corruption. All that has changed. A chief stipendiary magistrate was sent to gaol; a Minister of the Crown was sent to gaol; the Premier was fined $20,000; royal commissions such as the Costigan royal commission were held - it went on and on and on. Opposition members should not suggest that was not so; it was so. I suggest sincerely to the House that it wait until the umpire's result is known and then have an informed and proper debate. That is natural justice. That is fair, that is proper and that is in line with the intention of an Act of Parliament passed by this House with absolute universal support. For those reasons, which I think I have put succinctly and moderately, the Government is opposed to the motion before the House. It is primarily opposed to the motion because the matter ought to be the subject of dispassionate, professional and independent investigation. At the end of that investigation there will be a proper report. This debate can then proceed in an informed and valuable way. Before that occurs, any further debate in this Chamber does the community of New South Wales another disservice. For those reasons the Government opposes the motion.
The Hon. M. R. EGAN (Leader of the Opposition) [10.49], in reply: I will not delay the House any longer than is necessary. I think the most remarkable thing about the contribution we have just heard from the Leader of the Government is that the Government is completely unrepentant. The Government is maintaining that there is nothing wrong with the appointment of Dr Metherell, nothing wrong with the fact that it was a fix, that he was appointed to the job the same day the position was created, the same day he applied for the job and the same day he resigned from the Parliament. Apparently that is all acceptable behaviour. What the Leader of the Government is saying today is that if the need arises in the future for another member to be bought off, paid out, to have his seat in this Parliament purchased by the Government, this Government will have no qualms about doing the same thing again. In other words, if a member opposite decides suddenly that he or she is no longer able to support this Government and becomes an opponent of the Government, and if that changes the balance of power in this House, this Government will see nothing wrong with using $550,000 of taxpayers' money to pay that member off and get that member out of the Parliament. That is the lamentable thing about this whole sorry episode. Not only was the deed a despicable one when it was committed, but even after it was exposed to the world these people refused to acknowledge the evil of it. That is the concern because, if this Parliament does not record its censure of this corrupt deal, this mob opposite will feel
free to do it again and again and again. The standard of public life in this State will descend to depths that it has never reached before - except, of course, in the sleazy days of Sir Robert Askin.
The speech we heard from the Leader of the Government tonight was just the sort of bellicose speech we would have expected from Sir Robert Askin. I happen to believe that the Leader of the Government did not have his heart in it tonight. The more bellicose he became, the more convinced I was that he was outraged by the Metherell affair. He was thankful that he was thousands of miles away and did not have to front up publicly and account for that decision. I tell the House this: this debate will be resumed in this House in four or five or six weeks' time. Everything the Leader of the Government said tonight will be thrown back at him because he knows that the deal was corrupt and cannot be justified. He knows that to do the right thing the Premier should stand down for the duration of the inquiry, and he knows that Metherell's appointment should be terminated without compensation. That is why the motion that I have moved today should be carried by this House and that is why we look forward to returning to this Parliament in approximately six weeks' time when the Leader of the Government will find his comments tonight to be extremely embarrassing indeed.
Question - That the motion be agreed to - put.
The House divided.
Revd F. J. Nile
Mr Rowland Smith
Question so resolved in the negative.
The President reported the receipt of the following message from the Legislative Assembly informing the Council of the adoption of a resolution referring to the Independent
Commission Against Corruption for investigation the appointment of Dr Metherell to the senior executive service:
The Legislative Assembly desires to acquaint the Legislative Council that it has this day agreed to the following resolution:
That this House requests the Independent Commission Against Corruption -
To investigate the facts and circumstances relating to the resignation of Dr Terry Metherell from the Parliament of New South Wales, and the appointment of Dr Metherell to a position in the senior executive service or the public service of New South Wales, with a view to determining:
(a) whether any corrupt conduct has occurred, is occurring or is about to occur; and
(b) whether any laws governing any public authority or public official need to be changed for the purpose of reducing the likelihood of the occurrence of corrupt conduct; and
(c) whether any methods of work, practices or procedures of any public authority or public official did or could allow, encourage or cause the occurrence of corrupt conduct.
In particular, the Commission is to consider whether it is desirable to proscribe or regulate the appointment of persons who have ceased to be Members of Parliament to positions in the public sector.
The Hon. J. P. HANNAFORD (Minister for Health and Community Services) [11.1]: I move:
That this House do now adjourn.
TARGETED UNIVERSITY GRADUATES
The Hon. Dr MARLENE GOLDSMITH [11.1]: I take this opportunity to bring to the attention of the House a major achievement by the University of Western Sydney concerning targeted graduates. As honourable members would be aware, the targeted graduate program is a program which allows a number of new graduates to be recruited on the basis of merit for the public teaching service of New South Wales. Part of the rationale is that non-government schools actively recruit from teacher training institutions during the middle of students' final years to secure the services of the best graduates for the following year and that government schools should similarly be serving the students of New South Wales by recruiting the best teacher trainees. The other major part of the rationale is that employment within the system has been a substantial disincentive to talented and capable graduates in that employment was based on chronological placement on lists without consideration of merit. The targeted graduate program provides employment opportunity for a number of new graduates while still retaining opportunities for graduates from earlier years.
The scheme was first announced by the Minister for School Education and Youth Affairs in mid-1990, and some 370 such graduates started work in schools at the start of the 1991 school year. At approximately the same time in 1991 the Minister confirmed the continuation of the initiative and the intention to select some 600 graduates for that year. As a result 600 graduates were chosen by the start of November 1991. The exciting thing about this program is the demonstrable success that it has proven on the part of the University of Western Sydney in producing targeted graduates. The 1991-92
scheme has 600 new graduates, and 176 have been produced from the University of Western Sydney. The nearest institution to the University of Western Sydney in number of graduates is Sydney University, which has produced 104 graduates, substantially fewer graduates. The numbers of graduates over all from other institutions are: 77 from New South Wales University, 54 from Newcastle University, 45 from Wollongong University, 32 from Charles Sturt University, 27 from Macquarie University, 14 from the University of Technology, 10 from the Australian Catholic University, 12 from Avondale College, 5 from the Australian College of Physical Education and one from the Conservatorium. These last ones of course are small institutions.
The 176 graduates from the University of Western Sydney is an extraordinary achievement in the overall number of graduates, and it is an achievement on the part of the university that deserves commendation. The graduates were selected through a co-operative process between each institution and the region in which the institution is situated. Graduates were selected both by reference to assessments by the institution of the overall performance of each student in their courses of teacher education, including practical as well as theoretical components, and by a process of interviews by regional staff. Last night I was at a graduation ceremony of the faculty of education at the University of Western Sydney, Macarthur, and I feel sure the calibre of graduates will be every bit as good as the quality demonstrated in the performance of the university in having its previous graduates targeted as excellent. I commend the university, its dedicated and able teaching staff in the faculty of education at the relevant campuses and its gifted and dedicated graduates.
THE HONOURABLE PATRICK DARCY HILLS
The Hon. JUDITH WALKER [11.6]: Tonight I raise a rather sad matter on behalf of my colleagues, my husband and my family - the demise of Pat Hills last Wednesday. Patrick Darcy Hills was a man of the people. He was particularly a product of the Labor Party and the trade union movement. I have known Pat and his family well for many years. On behalf of my colleagues and the Parliament I would send the blessing and sincere condolence of the Legislative Council to his wife Stella, his children Michael and Kerry, Paul and Cheryl, Maria and Les, Carol and Tom, and Margaret, and their 13 grandchildren. Pat will be remembered for a number of important things he did in his life. Perhaps one of the most rewarding and ongoing was the setting up of Meals on Wheels, because it assists the disadvantaged, the pensioners and the sick. There are now some 267 individual Meals on Wheels programs throughout the State of New South Wales. The concept of Meals on Wheels was an initiative of Pat Hills as the Lord Mayor of Sydney in the 1950s.
There was quite a bit of brouhaha when the Prime Minister, Mr Keating, put his arm around the waist of the Queen during her recent visit to this country. Some who criticised that action should check their records. If they did, they would have turned up a photograph of Pat Hills, as the Lord Mayor of Sydney, guiding the Queen on her first visit to this country down the steps of the Town Hall and placing his arm under Her Majesty's elbow to ensure that she did not fall. There is a lesson for the media in that. One matter that I would like to refer to was Pat Hills' love of rugby league and cricket, his extraordinary leadership as the chairman of the cricket ground and the extended sports ground stadium and cricket ground which he brought into being. Parramatta people would probably remember that he was responsible for the establishment of the Parramatta Stadium.
Unfortunately, things soured somewhat once the cricket ground was named after
him. The incoming Greiner Government took a most irrational step - a petty move - and removed his name from the stand. Arthur Morris, who played cricket for Australia and who was a member of the Cricket Ground Trust, other Labor Party members of the Cricket Ground Trust and ordinary people who loved to watch cricket and who knew what Pat Hills had given to the game were concerned and upset when his name was removed from the stand. Arthur Morris did not understand why it had been done. He thought it was a poor thing for an incoming government to do. The Labor Party, when in government, never did such a thing. It may shame the Greiner Government to know that it was the wish of Pat Hills and his family that his ashes be scattered on his beloved cricket ground. That will occur. Few people in the Labor movement, apart from Patrick Darcy Hills, would stand the test of time. He was a great man who had a strong belief in the working man. I share his views but I must say that I did not always do so. I was not exactly rapt in the new workers' compensation legislation which he introduced in 1987, but some of the things he said were true. Vale Pat Hills. [Time expired.]
REVEREND THE HON. F. J. NILE
The Hon. ELISABETH KIRKBY [11.11]: I wish to bring to the attention of the House a letter dated 9th April that I received on 13th April. This adjournment debate has been my first opportunity to place this letter on the record. The letter is couched in these terms:
As you are aware, Reverend the Hon. Fred Nile made a statement to the Legislative Council on 19th March under the heading, "Chief Censor" (refer Hansard, p.101).
I am shocked and appalled by the stream of venomous and malicious lies told about me to the Honourable Members by the Reverend Nile. As his allegations are protected by parliamentary privilege, I am unable to defend myself against them. However, I invite this self-styled "Christian gentleman" to repeat his allegations outside the walls of "Cowards Castle" so that the truth of his assertions can be tested in the appropriate legal arena.
Quite apart from refuting the insinuation and innuendo contained in Mr. Nile's speech, I would like to bring the following facts to the attention of the Honourable Members:
(1) I have never been a consultant to the X-rated adult video industry; nor have I had any connection whatsoever with X-rated lobbying activities.
(2) The film, "The Last Temptation of Christ", was "approved" by the Film Censorship Board many months after I had left.
(3) The film "Hail Mary" was "approved" on the unanimous vote of the eleven members of the Film Censorship Board of which I was but one member.
(4) I have not engaged in "a major letter writing campaign" relating to a decision by the Office of Film and Literature Classification to ban the book, "The Final Exit". I have written one letter only which was published in two newspapers; viz. The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian dated 11th March, 1992 (copy attached).
(5) I have not been critical of the decision made by the OFLC concerning the film, "Henry, The Story of a Serial Killer"; neither have I criticised decisions taken in relation to the so-called "Sex Diary"; or action taken against the University of Technology's Orientation Handbook; or cancellation of grants to radical youth groups. None of these matters lie within my knowledge.
(6) To claim that through my activities Canberra has become the porn capital of Australia is as bilious and vicious a charge as it is ludicrous. As Mr. Nile is well aware, it was the
Commonwealth Government's decision in 1983 to enact legislation in the ACT which introduced the new `X' classification for videotapes, thus allowing so-called "pornography" to be legally available in Australia.
(7) My objection to the decision by the OFLC to ban the book, "The Final Exit", is based on the belief that euthanasia should not be a criminal act in a society which claims to be caring and civilised, and to value such human attributes as compassion and dignity.
I would be grateful if you would bring the above to the attention of the Honourable Members.
I would also appreciate your advice as to whether, in the light of the above, Mr. Nile can be brought before the Parliamentary Privileges Committee.
The letter is signed by Janet Strickland. Mr President, I know, because of what is written on this letter, that you have also been sent a copy. I do not know whether it is possible for Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile to be brought before the Standing Committee upon Parliamentary Privilege. I will leave that matter in your hands. I have done as Janet Strickland requested; I have refuted the lies spoken about her in this Chamber by Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile.
Motion agreed to.
House adjourned at 11.16 p.m.