FORMER MEMBER FOR DAVIDSON
Suspension of Standing and Sessional Orders
Motion, by leave, by Mr Greiner agreed to:
That so much of the Standing and Sessional Orders be suspended as would preclude consideration of the following motion:
(a) to refer to the Independent Commission Against Corruption for investigation and report the resignation from the Legislative Assembly of Dr Terry Metherell and his subsequent appointment to the Senior Executive Service; and
(b) to send a message to the Legislative Council acquainting it of the resolution and requesting it to pass a similar resolution.
On a point of order. I seek clarification which may save time of the House. If the Premier in response can give an assurance that a censure motion, no matter by whom it is moved, will be facilitated by the suspension of standing orders in this House, a lot of time might be saved in the debate on the motion now before the House.
On the point of order. The Leader of the House has indicated that the Government proposes to do exactly what is suggested.
(Ku-ring-gai - Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Ethnic Affairs) [2.21]: I move:
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 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 is the first reference by the Parliament to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. I welcome the reference. I am confident that all members will agree that it is the most appropriate course to adopt in the current circumstances. The Independent Commission Against Corruption was set up precisely because it was necessary to have a body with the forensic expertise and the independence to examine impartially allegations of corruption. This is particularly necessary in situations where allegations are made in a highly political atmosphere. It is even more necessary in situations where there are no specifics or precise allegations, but simply innuendos or suggestions that there is something illegal or corrupt about what has gone on. That is precisely the situation we find ourselves in. I value above all my reputation for honesty and integrity. I and my Government have done more than any government in the history of this State to open up the workings -
Order! I call the honourable member for Smithfield to order. I call the honourable member for Ashfield to order.
- of public administration to scrutiny, to put in place guarantees of integrity, such as establishing the Independent Commission Against Corruption. I look forward to a full and balanced inquiry into this matter, which I am confident will vindicate the conduct of both myself and the Government. The reference to the ICAC will enable this to occur in a calm and rational atmosphere, rather than the more hysterical one which has prevailed in the past two weeks. Last week I met with Mr Temby and he put the argument that the ICAC was the appropriate body to establish any fact-finding inquiry into allegations of corruption. Indeed, he made the point that this was the very reason for which the ICAC was established. He suggested to me that it was inappropriate and inefficient to have a proliferation of inquiries which at that time were being suggested by members of Parliament and others in relation to what might be termed the Metherell affair. I agreed with Mr Temby and suggested that the appropriate course of action would be for the Parliament itself to make a reference to the ICAC on this matter. After brief consideration of that proposition, Mr Temby agreed and subsequently approached the Leader of the Opposition.
Without questioning the rights and privileges of this Parliament to hold an
inquiry, there can be little doubt that in the current atmosphere there is unlikely to be the proper dispassionate consideration of evidence or the level of skill and expertise required to afford a full and proper hearing and a full and fair assessment of the evidence. The terms of reference proposed to be referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption were originally put forward by Mr Temby. The Government accepted those terms of reference and suggested an additional term, to require the Independent Commission Against Corruption to determine the desirability in general of prescribing or regulating the employment of former members of Parliament in the public sector. The Government is of the view that this term of reference raises important questions about the community's expectations in relation to appointments of members of Parliament to the public service, and about whether or not standards have shifted or changed to the extent that no such appointments will be considered acceptable in the future within a prescribed cooling-off period. Also it raises the question of whether or not those who have served in the Parliament ought to be denied the opportunity of serving the public in a different capacity - that is as a public servant of some sort. After all, in many circumstances former members of Parliament will have the kinds of interests and skills which fit them well for such posts.
Some comments have been made in respect to the timing of the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry. It is clearly a matter for the commission, but my understanding is that the Independent Commission Against Corruption report as to the facts will occur within a month from now, that it will start next week and the inquiry proper will start the following week. It is the expectation that it will take no more than two weeks, as I understand, for the facts stage to be completed. In other words, this is as expeditious, as prompt, and certainly as effective a mechanism for establishing the facts and making findings as one could have, and the House would not be surprised to hear that I, perhaps above all in New South Wales, would want this matter resolved and resolved as quickly as possible. I understand Mr Temby has also shown the terms of reference to the Leader of the Opposition, who has indicated that the Opposition is happy with them. I am confident that all members will support the motion.
(Maroubra - Leader of the Opposition) [2.26]: It is absolutely imperative from the outset that the implications of this matter be grasped fully by every member of this House, of the public and of the media, and above all by the Premier and the Government. From the beginning to the end, whenever that may be, it will be essential to keep in focus the fundamental question, has there been a violation of public trust? The central issue is not the question of jobs for the boys, although by any measure the political jobbery behind the Metherell fix is breathtaking in its arrogance and dishonesty. Legal advice obtained by the Opposition puts it another way, that central to this whole affair is the inviolable truth of our democratic tradition that "a member of Parliament is elected to serve, not bargain his seat for personal advantage". A whole raft of questions require answering. These are questions of ordinary public propriety, and questions of actual criminal conduct. They are questions going to the propriety of the appointment, its validity, its legality, and questions to determine whether Metherell swapped his seat for a job. Different as these questions may be, the answers to them involve the ultimate test - violation of public trust and in the words of the Premier in his Facing the World statement, "public confidence in our institutions". Legal advice to the Opposition establishes a prima facie case of criminality, especially in the role played by Terry Metherell and the Minister for the Environment and possibly the Premier. The advice is that they were a party to "a double-barrelled act of bribery. That a
parliamentary seat was bartered for a profitable job". Specifically the advice states:
There is an inescapable inference that (Dr Metherell) was induced to resign by the offer to him of a governmental position and prima facie this constitutes common law bribery or corruption in office to which he and Mr Moore are a party and to which Mr Greiner was an accessory. There also appears to be the offence of criminal conspiracy to corrupt on the part of Dr Metherell and Mr Moore and by inference Mr Greiner.
Its "inescapable conclusion [is] that the job was deliberately ‘gifted' to Dr Metherell by the Government. The Government's pains to cement [the job] in place quickly, to dress it up as that which it was not, ‘leads' to the clear inference that the promise and the guarantee of delivery [to Dr Metherell] of the SES job were an inducement by the Government to Dr Metherell". It concludes, "There is clearly material here on which a jury could find the transaction to be contrary to the known rules of honesty and integrity" implicit in the accepted definitions of common law bribery. That is why the Independent Commission Against Corruption's reference must be wide ranging. I will demonstrate in this debate the utter unbelievability of the Premier's attempt to hide his central involvement in this whole affair. This establishes a prime facie case that tags the Premier an accessory to common law bribery or corruption in office and party to a criminal conspiracy.
Order! I call the honourable member for Myall Lakes and the honourable member for Ermington to order.
We are dealing here with verifiable facts, concrete and specific facts and, among the most specific of them, one of the facts that goes to the heart of the matter of the Premier's involvement and responsibility, is the gazetted appointment of Terry Alan Metherell to be Policy Director of the Premier's own department. If that fact stood by itself, that would be sufficient to establish beyond question the Premier's central involvement. But, of course, it is only the tip of the iceberg. It would be impossible to track the Premier down his chosen path of confusion, misinformation and deception of the past 18 days. It would be impossible to sort out the contradictions and deliberately created confusions of the Premier, accessory as he is.
This much is clear, however, right up to last Friday, at least - not only in his press, radio and television interviews, not only in statements disseminated by his office and personally authorised by him, but in his talks with members of this Parliament, including Reverend the Hon. F. J. Nile and at least three Independent members of this House - the Premier embarked on an exercise not just of confusion but of cover-up. It is a cover-up of massive proportions and the cover-up itself must inevitably be central to the commission's inquiry. Let me take one set of statements by the Premier which distils the essence of his conduct. The statements I refer to are contained in his interview with Mr Quenton Dempster on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation "7.30 Report" on Tuesday, 21st April, when the Premier had had 10 days to formulate his position and work out his responses. The Premier's performance was not, let it be noted, a model of coherence. This is what he said in part:
Forget the legalistic detail. Dr Metherell was appointed to a position in the EPA by ministerial direction. My only involvement, other than a very general discussion a long time ago, was to say with Mr Moore to the head of my department Mr Moore wishes to appoint Dr Metherell to this position and you advise him how to do it and that was my total involvement in the matter.
The Premier has repeated again and again "that was my total involvement in the matter".
That is the Premier's considered public defence. There is not a line of it which does not contain a blatant untruth. I have an impeccable authority for that assertion. My authority is none other than Mr R. G. Humphry, the Director-General of the Premier's Department itself. Mr Humphry's repudiation is contained in the memorandum he wrote to the Premier at the Premier's request on 22nd April, the day after the "7.30 Report" interview. This crucial document, which I shall later seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard
, exposes the utter falsity of the Premier's claims to merely marginal, arm's-length involvement in this appointment - an appointment, it turns out, not to the Environment Protection Authority at all, but to the post of Policy Director of the Premier's own department - because it shows that in fixing up this deal the Premier's role was vital. It could never have happened without his decisive participation.
The crux of the matter is that on 9th and 10th April, the Premier set in train an elaborate, detailed and complex administrative process originating in the Premier's office and culminating in the Executive Council to give effect to a bargain by which the member for Davidson would vacate his seat in exchange for a senior executive service contract. In other words, Dr Metherell swapped his seat for a job. The essence of this affair is that he swapped his seat for a job or, to quote legal advice, "bartered a parliamentary seat for a profitable job". That process was initiated by the Premier, carried through under the authority of the Premier, executed by his own department pursuant to his instructions, and ultimately signed and sealed by the Governor-in-Council, co-signed by the Minister for the Environment, acting on this occasion for the Premier. Our legal opinion says the haste of this process "proved that the Government was concerned to allay Dr Metherell's fears and to deliver on the job" and "the inference that must therefore be drawn is that the job was the promise, [the job was] the price, [the job was] the reward for the resignation".
The chronology of the events of 9th and 10th April is vital to any understanding of the Premier's involvement, his involvement as an accessory to the crime. But the extraordinary events of these two long days of frenetic activity must in turn be set in the context of the longer chronology. On 2nd October, Dr Metherell resigned from the Liberal Party to remain as the Independent member. In doing so he criticised the Government on a range of matters. On 12th December, Dr Metherell supported the Labor Party's Endangered Fauna Protection (Interim) Bill. During February 1992 Dr Metherell made approaches to rejoin the Liberal Party but was rebuffed by the Premier who said, "That will never happen". Dr Metherell has since confirmed that he then had talks with his friend, the Minister for the Environment, about a public service job. Talks about a job, in other words, started in February after his attempt to rejoin the Liberal Party was rebuffed. On 25th February, Parliament resumed. On 5th March, Dr Metherell publicly described the Government's proposed Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Bill as bad law, bad law which could be brought down about its ears. On 10th March, Parliament was recalled especially to consider the Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Bill. Dr Metherell voted for it.
According to last Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald
, "Dr Metherell's decision was remarkable. Until that day he had been the most vigorous conservationist voice in Parliament since he resigned from the Liberal Party". The Sydney Morning Herald
claimed, "Timber industry sources were stunned by the vote". The member for Manly is quoted as saying he was absolutely flabbergasted about Dr Metherell's about-face. He told the Australian
on 24th April, "People had their mouths wide open" when Dr Metherell voted with the Government. The ICAC will need to interview the conservationist who claimed that the former member for Davidson was giving ironclad assurances of support until the dramatic change. He was discussing his job with the
Government during his consideration of this key legislation. As Matthew Moore noted in last Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald
, this raises "a series of suspicions". As the Opposition's legal advice says, "If it emerges that Dr Metherell was induced to change his vote upon the floor of the House, not just to resign, there is no doubt then that a criminal offence has occurred". On 14th March, newspaper advertisements under the heading "New South Wales Public Service Employment vacancies" appeared -
Order! I call members on the Government benches to order.
- including "Premier's Department, senior executive, various positions". Applications were to close on 3rd April. On 18th March, the Minister for the Environment wrote a four-page letter to the Premier resuscitating a proposal for the establishment of a small long-term strategic planning unit for the Environment Protection Authority. The authority needed, he said, a "helmsperson". In his letter he sought approval for the creation of the SES executive director position and three support positions in the units. He also sought approval for immediate advertisement to seek possible candidates for the executive director position. On 30th March the New South Wales Liberal director, Mr Robert Maher, announced that Liberal Party nominations for the seat of Davidson would be called, closing within the week on 6th April, with the pre-selection to be held one week later on 14th April. The Sydney Morning Herald
of 31st March reported:
Speaking on ABC radio, Mr Maher admitted it was unusual to call for a preselection when a general election was three years away.
On 1st April Mr Humphry replied to Minister for the Environment on behalf of the Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Ethnic Affairs, stating:
The Premier has asked me to convey his approval in principle to the establishment of the said unit-
The central involvement of the Premier is again apparent. He continued:
- and approving the establishment of the SES executive director position and the three other support positions.
This much is clear. During the last two weeks of March, with the Premier's full knowledge, full approval and active involvement, a process had been set in train to create a position in the Environment Protection Authority in exchange for the resignation of the former member for Davidson from Parliament. Things were proceeding according to plan. On 7th April the Premier dined in the parliamentary dining room with Dr Metherell and the honourable member for Wakehurst. Then there was the rush of activity on 9th and 10th April. Here arises a key question for the inquiry: why the sudden rush? Why the unseemly haste - which, according to senior legal opinion, has produced an appointment invalid in law? The reason for the rush remains hidden, but what is known is that it was the Premier who initiated the rush. The proof is contained in Mr Humphry's memorandum to the Premier on 22nd April, which states:
That is, the Premier and Minister. It continues:
- sought advice on procedures applying to SES appointments.
Mr Humphry then summarised the requirements under the Public Sector Management Act
1988, stating that Dr Metherell would have to resign from Parliament and be required to apply in writing for appointment against an advertised position. He pointed out that the level for four SES positions created on 1st April had not yet been advertised. It was at this point that the fix began and that the need to manufacture a cover story arose. Everything that the Premier and the Minister had said publicly from that point specifically about the EPA appointment represents a cover-up. As the Premier obviously realised, this was the position on the morning of 9th April. There was no application for any position by Dr Metherell; there was no position for which Dr Metherell could apply.
Order! There is too much audible conversation in the Chamber. I call the honourable member for Monaro to order.
At least in terms of the undertakings he had obviously received from the Minister and Premier, there was no appropriate advertised position in existence. There was no job description; there was no statement of duties; there was no interview: there was absolutely nothing which met any of the conditions and requirements laid down by the Premier's own legislation. But for reasons so far kept an impenetrable secret by the Premier something had to be done within 24 hours. A contract had to be delivered to Dr Metherell by the next day - by the time Parliament rose for the Easter recess. This was done within the space of a single working day. A senior position was created, the position of Policy Director of the Premier's Department. Dr Metherell wrote his application for one of the various positions. It was a day of frenetic activity. The application was a model of brevity. That much can be said for it. The Director-General of the Premier's Department, Mr Humphry, wrote to Dr Metherell, the Minister for the Environment and the Director-General of the EPA, informing them of the arrangements to be made. The Minister signed recommendations on behalf of the Premier, recommending a proclamation creating the position of Policy Director in the Premier's Department and the appointment of - guess who? - Dr Metherell to that position after having "sighted" his three-line job application. Dr Metherell resigned from Parliament and finally the Governor-in-Council signed the proclamation and the recommendation appointing Dr Metherell to the position of Policy Director of the Premier's Department - all in one day.
According to the legal opinion received by the Opposition, it can be seen from all this that "the parties' promises were mutually dependent and the rush to remove them from the executory to the executed state was to prevent potential interference until the political coup had been achieved". This was the sham orchestrated by the Premier's Department, originating with an instruction from the Premier. Again there was central involvement of the Premier of New South Wales, and again I ask: why the rush? Why did the Premier instruct his own senior officers to commit themselves to a process which cut every corner, swept aside every standard procedure and ignored basic requirements? It is this process, this sham, this scam, which was summed up by the Premier himself when he said on the John Laws program of 15th April:
He applied. He wanted a job. Sure, I mean one is a consequence of another. He obviously resigned as a consequence of the job.
Does the Premier grasp the enormity of his own admissions in the light of the facts as shown, as known and as set out in the documentation from the Premier's Department? Does he yet grasp that the facts demonstrate that he has deliberately misled the public on his own involvement? Does he yet grasp that this appointment - even more so the way it was fixed up - flouted every standard and every requirement laid down in his own Public Sector Management Act? In other words, Dr Metherell swapped his seat for a
job, a job specially created for him to vacate a seat vital to the Government's future. Why does this constitute the criminal act of bribery? Let us once again quote opinion; I quote a range of commonly accepted definitions of common law bribery. They spell out the enormity and criminality of the actions of the Minister for the Environment, Dr Metherell and almost certainly the Premier. I start with the definition in the text of Russell on Crime
Bribery is the receiving or offering of any undue reward by or to any person whatsoever in a public office in order to influence his behaviour in office and incline him to act contrary to the known rules of honesty and integrity.
Judge Staunton of the District Court has his own definition:
To bribe is to give a person holding a public office money, property or an advantage to induce that person to act contrary to the dictates of his duty. The offence lies in the corrupt giving and acceptance of the money, property or advantage.
We are told therefore that "the essence of bribery lies in the promise or acceptance of personal advantage to pervert one's official function". In this whole affair the personal advantage to the Premier and the Minister for the Environment is clear: an extra seat to help cement the survival of the Government and for Dr Metherell $550,000 paid to him over five years in return for that seat. Does the Premier yet grasp that the frenetic haste of 10th April leads to inescapable inferences that the arrangement had to be fixed in concrete before Dr Metherell would resign; that he had to be absolutely guaranteed that the promise of a job would stick and that the guarantee that he demanded was the signature of the Governor-in-Council; that the rush to finality on 10th April was the essential precondition of the bargain that had been struck for both sides - Dr Metherell to secure his inducement and the Premier to procure a vacancy in this Parliament. Above all, does the Premier yet grasp that all these known facts and circumstances and all surrounding circumstances - known and unknown - require absolutely that the Premier now stand aside while the inquiry proceeds. Since last Friday, the Premier has put up only one excuse for his failure to do so, the excuse that he is not personally charged with anything. He stands at the very centre of this imbroglio. It could never have started without his approval; it could never have continued without his support; it could never have been consummated without his involvement, approval and participation. Whatever the role of the Minister for the Environment there can be no doubt as to the ultimate and direct responsibility of the Premier from conception to cover-up. Let me state the charges against the Premier: first, he knew and approved the offer to the former member for Davidson to induce him to vacate his seat in this House; second, the Premier knew and approved the inducement of an appointment -
Order! I call the Minister for Justice to order.
- to the senior executive service at a salary of $110,00 per annum under a five-year contract; third, to effect this deal the Premier specifically initiated the creation of a senior executive service position within his own department; fourth, in the period during which the deal was being stitched up the Premier met with the then member for Davidson and discussed the member's participation in divisions vital to the fate of this Government; fifth, the Premier deliberately practised deception and authorised misinformation as part of a sustained cover-up. Let this be clear: the Premier's involvement is central to this whole affair. Not the least disgraceful aspect has been his deliberate deception that the appointment was the responsibility of the Minister - old huff and puff, the greatest living political strategist of our time, the man who gave the Government the boundaries at the last election - and that the Premier was only marginally
involved and that Dr Metherell's self-proclaimed credentials on the environment justified his appointment. Under the disguise of admitting a mistake - not the appointment but the failure to advertise it - the Premier deliberately reinforced the deceit. Of all the documents so far disclosed in this squalid saga none speaks more eloquently on the Premier's role and responsibility in this appointment than the proclamation by which it was literally signed and sealed. Let me read the proclamation and let its full significance sink in:
PUBLIC SECTOR MANAGEMENT ACT 1988 - PROCLAMATION
I, Rear Admiral PETER ROSS SINCLAIR, Governor of the State of New South Wales, with the advice of the Executive Council, and in pursuance of section 42D of the Public Sector Management Act 1988, do, by this my Proclamation, amend Part 1 of Schedule 3B to that Act by inserting at the end of the positions relating to the Premier's Department the position of Policy Director.
Signed and Sealed at Sydney, this 10th day of April, 1992.
By His Excellency's Command,
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN.
Mr Speaker, well may they say God Save the Queen, because nothing will save the Premier.
Order! I call the honourable member for Cabramatta to order and I remind him that it is gross disorderly conduct to interject on the Speaker when he is on his feet.
(South Coast) [2.53]: I wish to address the terms of reference and refer to their actual wording. I agree with a suggestion made by my Independent colleague the honourable member for Manly that the first term of reference should be:
(a) whether any corrupt conduct has occurred, was encouraged, is occurring or is about to occur.
I ask the Government to consider the inclusion of that wording and the following for the second term of reference:
(b) whether any laws governing any public authority or public official need to be changed for the purpose of reducing the likelihood of, and preventing, the occurrence of corrupt conduct.
Consideration should be given to their inclusion in the terms of reference. The Independent Commission Against Corruption is an instrument of Parliament and is in place investigate illegality or impropriety. It is Parliament's role to deal with political matters. Nothing could be said today that will prejudice the ICAC inquiry. Nothing that could come out of the ICAC inquiry could remove the stain of censure for totally unacceptable and immoral actions by the Government. The best result the Government can hope for is that the outcome of an ICAC inquiry will save it from more serious action. Despite recent conventions that comments should not be made while an ICAC inquiry is in train, it must be remembered that Parliament is supreme, especially as this involves the resignation of a member of Parliament to create a vacancy which is crucial to the Government and involves the use of half a million dollars of public money on an appointment initially to a job that did not exist.
The ICAC will be asked to look at some very grave questions, including whether
the Premier sanctioned the deal to deliver over half a million dollars of public money over a period of five years to the former member for Davidson - why, and how did this occur? Was it an inducement for Dr Metherell to vacate a seat in Parliament? Whether the approach was made by Dr Metherell, the honourable member for Wakehurst, a Minister or some other Government member is really almost irrelevant to that matter. Was the former member for Davidson influenced in his thinking, voting and actions as a member of Parliament by the prospect of financial gain? Were any of the actions taken by those involved corrupt, illegal or improper, reasonable or fair? The Independent Commission Against Corruption will examine those questions in depth. But the one certain thing is that the employment contract was immoral, totally unacceptable and not in the interests of the people of New South Wales. When Dr Metherell said he wanted to leave Parliament and was interested in a public service job he should have been told there and then to resign and take his chances. That would have put an end to the matter.
The instant that politicians discussed how this could be effected and facilitated, and proceeded to facilitate the appointment against the established guidelines for appointment to the senior executive service - without competition and in a manner not in the public interest - I believe they crossed the Rubicon. Did Mr Humphry assess the applicants in an unbiased way? If so, why did not the other applicants get an interview? If the applicant had been other than Dr Metherell, would a conviction for tax evasion have ruled out a potential candidate as unsuitable? The accelerated process of preferment and appointment bore little relationship to the guidelines for recruitment, selection and appointment of people to the senior executive service, published in June 1989 by the senior executive service unit of the Office of Public Management, of which Mr Humphry is the head. Why? There are 24 pages of guidelines. I shall deal with those guidelines in greater depth later this day. They refer to matters such as the objectives of recruitment in selection, which are in place to ensure that appointment is in accordance with merit, that equal opportunities apply, and that the most capable person available to fill the position, of relevant personal qualities including integrity and initiative, is appointed. The actions of the Government in this case were fast-tracked, discriminatory, unfair, political and not in the interests of the people of New South Wales.
Dr Metherell's appointment left Professor Niland, Chairman of the Board of the Environment Protection Authority, flabbergasted and embarrassed. And the independence of the EPA was compromised. In my view, the contract arose out of a process of conspiracy so secret that Cabinet members were kept in the dark until the last minute and their advice was not sought. The Cabinet Secretary and the head of the Premier's Department and even the Deputy Premier were not told until it was too late. Later in the day I shall talk about why I believe the Australian Labor Party is hypocritical on this issue of jobs for the boys. In particular, even now I believe that the Leader of the Opposition in another place is talking about Ministers being able to appoint heads of department as they think fit and that this process of politicisation of the public service must cease. If the deal was fair and above board, why the obfuscation, shifting of ground, secrecy, lack of consultation and unholy haste? The ICAC will decide the question of corruption and illegality.
Before turning to the last paragraph of the terms of reference I reiterate some of the points already made. A world record was established in that on the one day - and most of it within one hour - Dr Metherell handed in his resignation, there was an exchange of documents, Minister Moore then signed the documents on behalf of the Premier appointing Dr Metherell to the senior executive service, the Executive Council met formally creating the position which Dr Metherell will occupy, it gave effect by
formal action to the appointment and the approval was then conveyed to and signed by the Governor. To pretend that this world record set by government and administration is unrelated to securing the golden prize of a vacancy in the blue ribbon seat of Davidson is to say that Olympians do not go for gold. In this case there was a lot of gold for both sides. I think that is a key aspect of this case.
In regard to the last paragraph of the terms of reference - whether this Parliament ought to address the issue in legislation - for some weeks now I have been working on legislation and now have an initial draft. The Constitution (Crimes) (Bargaining for Public Office) Amendment Bill 1992, which is to head off appointments to such positions in the future, will not prevent a person who was a public servant prior to entering Parliament from resuming a career as a public servant. The clear objective is to prevent jobs for the boys and pay-offs. In other words, if a person resigns from the public service - a school teacher, a nurse, a doctor employed by the Department of Health or a person working for the lands department - the bill would not preclude that person from accepting a position comparable to that which the person left in the public service. That is a long way removed from creating a job, giving preference without competition, admitting a person into the public service without due competition and giving that person a walkup start to a job with a salary of $110,000 a year for five years. Part 8 of the proposed bill is pertinent. Proposed section 344 defines benefits as any personal or political advantage, whether or not it involves a financial benefit. Public office is defined as any office of profit under the Crown. A public official is defined as the holder of any such office. The bill creates the offence of bargaining for public office, and this I believe underlines the seriousness of the Metherell affair. Legislation does not exist in New South Wales for such offences yet the seriousness of the matter is recognised in some other States. Proposed section 344 provides:
(1) A public official who corruptly solicits, accepts or agrees to accept a benefit for himself or herself or for some other person or persons as a reward or inducement for securing or for using any influence to secure the appointment of a person to a public office is liable to penal servitude for 10 years.
(2) A person who corruptly offers or gives benefit to a public official or to some other person or persons as a reward or inducement for a public official to secure or to use any influence to secure the appointment of the person to public office is liable to penal servitude for 10 years.
Order! There is far too much audible conversation in the Chamber. Members who wish to converse will do so outside the Chamber.
We have to stamp out once and for all by legislation, irrespective of what happens today and irrespective of the findings of the ICAC, the opportunity for Executive Government and people in power to give people a walkup start to lucrative positions in the public service which are paid for by the taxpayers of New South Wales.
(Gordon - Minister for the Environment) [3.4]: I do not propose to speak at length to this motion.
Order! I call the honourable member for Fairfield to order.
But I do propose to speak at length to a subsequent motion. I look forward to the opportunity to have these matters put to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. I have every confidence that the conduct of all members who will be considered by that commission will be found to be without blemish in any legal sense. I simply find the monstrous hypocrisy of the Leader of the Opposition, who is not game
to stay in this House for all this debate, in standing here tumescent with the lust for power to be a disgrace. I look forward to the carriage of this motion and the subsequent hearings before Mr Temby and I look forward at a later stage to the subsequent debate on that report in this Parliament.
(Ashfield) [3.6]: Mr Speaker -
Order! I call the honourable member for Myall Lakes to order for the second time.
I am quietly relieved that both the Premier and the Minister for the Environment, who has just spoken, are not defending me, because their conduct and their behaviour have been reprehensible. I say to the honourable member for South Coast that this motion surely is about the supremacy of the Parliament. It is a matter for the joint Parliament. It came about because the Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Mr Temby, of his own volition - not at the request of the Premier, not at the request of the Leader of the Opposition - felt that there was something about the matter that was publicly on display for a fortnight that needed investigating. It was his view that under the definitions of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act there was behaviour of a corrupt kind that warranted his drafting a reference to investigate the facts and circumstances relating to the resignation of Dr Terry Metherell from the Parliament of New South Wales. I say also to the honourable member for South Coast that the motion raises a very interesting point about section 122 of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act - the role and privilege of members of Parliament and whether they will divest themselves of privilege. What will happen if, when the Parliament is in recess and the Independent Commission Against Corruption public inquiry ensues, Dr Metherell says that he will not give any evidence because he claims privilege as a member of Parliament?
Mr W. T. J. Murray:
What do you mean, "He cannot"? I suggest you get some advice, read section 122 of the Act and find out what his filibuster will be all about. I advise the Independent members now that when we get to that stage and before we leave this Parliament now we will have to make a decision as a Parliament that when Mr Temby's report is concluded and brought down this Parliament should immediately resume and debate the report of the Independent Commission Against Corruption and not wait until August or September when the Parliament is due to come back. Parliament should resume specifically for the purpose of discussing that report. On 10th April, a day of feverish activity in the Government, I spent a lot of time in the Chamber with the Minister for the Environment and the former member for Davidson. I would like to know from the Minister for the Environment why he tried to hoodwink the Parliament by refusing the process of that parliamentary debate. All questions have been raised now about why the Minister did not permit the adjournment of the debate on Garigal National Park.
Why did he not undertake to complete what he set out to do, namely, an agreed adjournment? The answer is that he had already promised Metherell, by the time that parliamentary debate took place, that in consideration of his resignation, he would ensure that he had that golden handshake and that job. I ask the Minister when he concocted this scheme and who in his office or who in the Premier's office rang His Excellency the Governor's secretary, at what time and on what day, and asked for the special Executive Council meeting? If the answer to that question is 9th April, I do not think the Minister
has any choice at all - no choice whatsoever. If the Minister looks at the Oaths Act, he will see that it has special reference to the oaths to be taken not by any justice of the peace - no one has discussed this yet - but to the special, priority and important oaths to be taken under the fifth schedule by executive councillors. His taking of the oath would read:
I, Tim Moore, being chosen and admitted of Her Majesty's Executive Council in New South Wales, do swear that I will to the best of my judgment at all times when thereto required freely give my counsel and advice to the Governor . . .
Did he go down and tell His Excellency that the quid pro quo for Metherell's resignation was the fact that the Liberals hoped that they would win the seat of Davidson and the numbers in the Parliament would be different? Did he involve the Governor in this political conspiracy between himself and the Premier -
Order! I call the honourable member for Ermington to order for the second time.
- to promote this breach of massive trust that this Parliament has now decided mutually to refer. The Premier interjected earlier about a variety of matters, one of which was the reference to the ICAC. The Premier would not have referred the matter to the ICAC, notwithstanding what the director-general of his office says. His evidence before the ICAC will be very interesting, as also will be the evidence of the Director-General of the Premier's Department, whose attempt to get the Premier off the record has not only implicated himself but has put the Premier further into speculation. Now it is going to concern all Ministers. All Ministers are involved. They had a Cabinet meeting and discussed it, according to the newspapers, for one hour. All of the discussion they had will now have to go before the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Order! I call the Minister for State Development and Minister for Tourism to order.
I will tell honourable members who else will - the big numbers man. He calls himself the Graham Richardson of the Liberal Party - Ted Pickering - the Leader of the Government in the upper House. He will have to go down to the ICAC and explain what he said to a former member of Parliament on 4th April when questioned, "Are you worried about Metherell?" This is what Pickering said on 4th April, "I am not concerned at all, I am not worried about him, he will be gone soon". He is going to have to give lovely evidence. I will not be cross- examining; it will be Mr Temby. He will be very interested in the comments made by Mr Pickering and others who knew about it. Perhaps Mr Temby might want to have a talk to some of the drivers who knew about this story on Wednesday, who knew the whole thing was unfolding on Wednesday. What are we going to do? Are we going to have all the drivers before Mr Temby? No, there are many more simpler solutions than that.
I want to return to Mr Humphry. This memorandum of Mr Humphry's, the one that did not take place on 10th April but took place on 22nd April, raises serious questions. In my view this memorandum is carefully drafted, setting out some of the facts - but not all - clearly is designed to protect the Premier and the Minister for the Environment against improper or unethical conduct. That memorandum asserts that the appointment was valid For reasons that I shall give that assertion is in error. Several inferences are designed specifically to help the Premier defend himself against the inducement matter. In point 1 of the memorandum Mr Humphry implies that the matter
was first raised with him on 9th April. Press comments since 10th April would suggest an earlier date. That is a critical issue. In 1(a) Mr Humphry states that external applicants need to respond to an advertisement. He puts it that way so that Dr Metherell's application on 10th April can be regarded as a valid application to the advertisement that appeared on 3rd March.
Section 2(c) required that the advertisement must be for a vacant position and that the person with the greatest merit must be appointed. The positions in both the Premier's Department and the Environment Protection Authority were not established until the Executive Council minute of 10th April, in other words, they were not vacant at that time. There are doubts about the validity of the appointments following the general advertisement of 14th March, since there are no vacant positions. That suggests the possibility that this general advertisement was specifically designed to accommodate Dr Metherell. Therefore, discussions must have gone on for some weeks, and Mr Humphry and the Premier must have been involved. Point 2 states that the Premier informed Humphry that Metherell had approached Moore. That is not consistent with press reports and had been included simply by the Premier's director to protect the Premier.
Similarly point 3 is phrased, "Dr Metherell sought the appointment". Mr Humphry is clearly protecting the Premier. The advice in point 3(f) is not valid. The position in the Environment Protection Authority was not established - Humphry uses the word "created" to confuse - until 10th April. How can a general advertisement cater for a specific position? As all senior executive service positions are in the same administrative unit since an appointment is made, a transfer to another position can be effected. Therefore, the vital issue is whether a valid appointment has been made to the Premier's Department. Since the position in the Premier's Department was not established until April, it would not be valid, nor would an examination be made that Metherell was the person of greatest merit.
Point 4 is again framed to protect the Premier. In point 6 all requirements, Humphry claims, under the Public Sector Management Act have been complied with. That ignores section 31 that requires advertising of a vacant position. Also, paragraph 42 refers to schedules of senior executive service positions. The position of policy director, Premier's Department, was not scheduled until 10th April. How could it be advertised and filled under such circumstances? The sequence of events in point 6 is vital. The paperwork - executive minutes et cetera - could not be done after Metherell submitted his resignation. It is now clear that Humphry approved the appointment, signed the Executive Council minute and had it countersigned by Moore prior to Metherell resigning. In point 9 Humphry again protects the Premier by claiming that the appointment was not initiated by the Government. He gratuitously refers to ample precedent for political appointments.
What must be made clear is that this appointment is to the public service under the Public Sector Management Act. This appointment is made by the Governor on the recommendation of the head of the department. This is distinctively different from appointments made by the Governor on the recommendation of the Minister or by the Minister directly under the specific provisions of other Acts. If departmental heads are to be subject to directions of Ministers in making appointments to the public service, as appears to have happened in this case, the New South Wales Public Service has reverted to the first political patronage of 100 years ago which led to the first 1900 royal
commission and then the 1918 royal commission. As the Leader of the Opposition said, nothing is going to protect either the Premier or all the Ministers of the Government who have been involved in this sordid saga, including the Minister for Conservation and Land Management, who was clearly in knowledge at the time of the debate on 10th April that something was involved and that consideration was involved. Clearly they would not have told Mr Yabsley. Because he is such an idiot that they would not have told him anyway. If they had, he would have held a press conference and would have started his press conference by saying, "I deny that Metherell has been appointed to a job for the boys and got 600,000".
Order! I call the Minister for State Development to order for the second time. I call the honourable member for Londonderry to order.
I will be happy to answer questions. In fact, the way this sorry saga is being resolved, I will be sitting over that side of the Chamber and you can ask me any questions you like.
Order! I call the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs to order.
The clear facts are that the Minister responsible for forests was privy to the arrangement, was privy to the deal. I understand that the Deputy Premier indicated, following 10th April, that he was not privy to what has happened and the deal that was done; and I have no evidence to the contrary. We do have evidence that other Ministers were in knowledge. I want the Premier, when he replies to give an undertaking to the Parliament and to the people of New South Wales that all your files - all the files of your Ministers - all the telephone directories, all the telephone numbers and all evidence, and all documents - it is a simple undertaking, Premier - will not be removed and in fact will be granted to Mr Temby upon the carriage of this resolution by the Parliament. What is clear is that your director general has attempted to protect you and, at the same time as he has tried to protect you, he has hung himself. His evidence before the public inquiry of the Independent Commission Against Corruption will probably be the most interesting of all; but perhaps it will not be as interesting as the evidence of Dr Metherell. We may ascertain why Dr Metherell had such a great love affair for you. They mentioned something about debts -
On a point of order. The honourable member for Ashfield should address his remarks through the Chair.
Order! The member for Ashfield will direct his remarks through the Chair.
I apologise for not doing so. Debts were referred to. I just want to say that, clearly, this appointment was made because the Premier had a commitment to honour an undertaking that he had given, after he had knocked Dr Metherell off out of Cabinet and he sat on the crossbenches. The debt the Premier owed to Dr Metherell was that he was the Premier's fall guy. I hope Mr Temby will have a complete analysis of the funding of Community Polling. When he looks at Community Polling, he will find, right there at the bottom of it, that Nick, the man of great courage, ducked out and left Terry holding the baby. So, Premier, I look forward to your evidence trying to protect yourself in Parliament. More than anything, I look forward to the Premier honouring the traditions of Westminster - and the Minister for the Environment, and both stepping down during the inquiry. Most of all, I look forward to your resignation as the Premier of this State.
Mr J. H. MURRAY
(Drummoyne) [3.25]: Early last month the newspapers reported that this Premier would present us with a vision statement, "New South Wales Facing the World". At that time we were all prepared for the Premier to make a statement in this House, obviously, it would have been more than the five minute performance he put on today, but he wimped on it. He ducked that one. He took members of the press down town, dined and wined them and gave them his vision statement. It is very interesting to read that vision statement - with which this Premier wished to hoodwink the people of New South Wales - in the light of what is happening today. On that occasion the Premier said:
My Government is now four years old. Its philosophy and policies have been developing for eight.
That is under the guidance of the Leader of the House, Mr Moore, and under the guidance and leadership of the Premier, the Hon. Nick Greiner:
Those policies have brought New South Wales to the lead in many areas - in public confidence in our institutions . . .
Other reforms were referred to. That was the statement of this Premier. He went on to say:
Over time, of course, some of those policies have become dated . . .
They have become more than dated. What we see today is a degree of ineptness, a degree of scandal, -
Mr W. T. J. Murray:
Can you spell "Fitzgerald"? Let's have an inquiry into him.
Mr J. H. MURRAY:
They would not even take the Deputy Premier into their confidence. He did not know what was going on until he read about it in the newspapers. No wonder he wants to scuttle out of the Chamber now. On that day there was to be a new vision for this State. However, since that time the empire has crumbled, the vision statement has become blurred, the people of New South Wales have at last realised that the essence of this Government is nothing more than corruption, ineptitude and arrogance. More importantly, the debate today stems around the cynical and arrogant plot of this Premier and this Minister for the Environment. I predict, like the member for Ashfield predicted, others will be implicated when they have to go down to Redfern and face the judiciary. Others will be implicated in this as well. The whole plot was to replace an Independent with a Liberal member for Davidson so that the numbers in this House would change and this Premier could go ahead with his policies of wrecking this State.
In fact, the essence of this debate rests on the definition of the word "corruption" as it is referred to by the Independent Commission Against Corruption. It is important that it should be put on the record what is meant by the word "corruption" as applied by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, because it is very wide ranging. I am pleased to see that at least members in the public gallery want to hear the facts. It is disappointing that the members of the Government who got into the party room yesterday and who have been hoodwinked by the Minister are not willing to stay and listen to exactly what this is all about. They are embarrassed, but at least the public of New South Wales are staying to listen. They understand that this Government is on the run and that what they have been fed by this Premier and this Minister is not the fact. The word "corruption" is defined by ICAC as:
any conduct of a public official that constitutes or involves the dishonest or partial exercise of any of his or her official functions; or -
This is the key to it:
- any conduct of a public official or former public official that constitutes or involves a breach of public trust.
It is as sure as night follows day that the trust that the people of Davidson put in this Government and bestowed on their originally elected member - who then had the fortitude to resign from the Liberal Party, became an Independent but was still representing that electorate - ceased the very day he moved from the Government benches to the crossbenches on 10th March - and then sold himself out for a $110,000 job in the public service. I am pleased to see the member for Burrinjuck is in the Chamber because he knows what we are talking about. It is a pity the member for Monaro is not in this Chamber because he and the member for Burrinjuck know more than anybody else that that man on that day had fought them tooth and nail, word by word, in the environmental debates in this Chamber. On the vital day that he was supposed to be with the three Independents he scuttled the ship and he went over to the Government side to vote. The thing that brought about his change was obviously the underhanded conniving that had been taking place between the member for Gordon and the former member for Davidson.
As a member of this Parliament I feel strongly about their actions because when I leave this Chamber and visit various electorates people think that the member for Drummoyne has the same values and moral attitude as the Minister for the Environment and the former member for Davidson. I say categorically that I do not have that attitude or those standards. It is important that we, as members of this Parliament, put this matter before the ICAC so that the actions of those Government members are exposed and it is shown that they do not represent their electorates. Mr Speaker, you have a difficult job and you have always tried to uphold the dignity of the Parliament. I am sure that you are ashamed at the conniving of the Executive Government in this shabby exercise.
I turn now to a chronology of the Metherell saga, because if it is not continually repeated people will not understand the import of the shabby decision by this Government. On 12th December, 1991, Metherell supported the Australian Labor Party's Endangered Fauna (Interim Protection) Bill. On 18th December the by-election for The Entrance was held. That by-election changed many things but, more importantly, it brought to this House a member who will properly represent the people of the electorate of The Entrance. On that particular date the numbers changed significantly in this House. In February the then turncoat decided there was no value in being part of the Independents, that he might return to the Liberal Party. He approached the Premier and said, "Please have me back". At that stage the Premier had an understanding of human nature. Since then his judgment has become blurred. However, I applaud the Premier for having said, "That will never happen".
On 14th March the turncoat repudiated everything he had said on the record in this House and threw in his lot with the Government for $110,000, and I will tell honourable members why. On 6th March the Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Bill was debated. Metherell met the Leader of the Opposition at 8.30 a.m. to seek support for his amendments to the Wilderness Act. On that same day he met in Moore's office between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Moore offered Metherell a compromise on the Wilderness Act if Metherell would withdraw his amendment which he had previously negotiated with Carr. That is the measure of the honour of the man. He had earlier approached the
Leader of the Opposition and said, "I want you to do this". We in the Labor Party are honourable. We are not perfect, we make mistakes but at least if we have an agreement we stick to it. That is the tradition of the Labor Party. On this occasion the Labor Party was willing to support the amendment proposed by the former member for Davidson but in the meantime he went to see the Minister for the Environment who then moved a Government amendment on 10th March. Also on 10th March the bill went through and, as I said, the former member for Davidson did an about-face and supported the Government's legislation.
On 18th March, eight days later, Moore wrote to Greiner proposing the creation of a long-term strategic planning unit, which is a euphemism for "I am going to create a job for my mate". There was never any need to create that position but after Metherell had delivered the goods for the Government Moore said, "We will create a job for him". He said, "We need someone who is a suitable helmsperson as the leader of this unit". I have never heard so much diatribe in all my life. Anyone who has sat in this Chamber for as long as I have and who has witnessed the performance of the former member for Davidson would realise that he would be the least suitable person to be at the helm of anything. If I were in a leaking boat I would not give him the job of saving me. However, he was to be given the senior position to run that unit at an annual salary of $110,000. On 7th April, I saw Greiner, Metherell and the member for Wakehurst sitting at a table in the corner of the dining room. I said to myself, "There is something going on there" because the only time the Premier ever enters the dining room is when he is in difficulty. When he is in difficulty he comes into the dining room and sits in the corner to gee-up additional votes. There sat the terrible three with grinning faces because they knew on 7th April what was going to happen. It is all there, chapter and verse, and it will be a matter for the public record.
More important, we now have an organisation which this Government set up to knock the Labor Party over. That was the Government's sole intent. When the former Attorney General came into this House he admitted it. He said, "We are going to set up the ICAC because we are going to get at you, the Labor Party". Fortunately the ICAC has independence. The ICAC has decided to do its own thing. The commission has knocked this Government from pillar to post because of its deals behind closed doors from the time it came to office. Through previous ICAC inquiries members of this Parliament have had to resign and others have had their reputations sullied, and I say that the same thing will happen again. Whenever the ICAC has investigated the machinations of this Government it has been found wanting. One last thing that I throw at the Government is this -
I know it hurts the Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Further Education, Training and Employment. He is a legal man and he would want to hear some legal treaties on the machinations that have occurred behind his back. The Premier did not trust you, Minister. You are untrustworthy in the eyes of the Premier. You might be a Minister of the Crown and have a senior portfolio but your leader and the leader of the House do not trust you. In other words, in their eyes you are untrustworthy, because you, like me, have to read of their actions in the newspapers or see it on Saturday night television. But the opinion from Mr James, an eminent Queen's Counsel who has taken a particular interest in this particular case, is that Dr Metherell's statements show that he clearly was aware of the possibility that it might be thought that he had been bought off, because he said "I just simply don't get bought off." That was a statement by him. When one reads what actually happened between the time that the
member for Davidson and the member for Gordon were playing handsies together, conniving, and the $110,000 announcement on the green back lawn it becomes clear that Dr Metherell's appointment was, at least, fast tracked.
The time frame of normal public service procedures would have been quite inadequate and, indeed, an obstruction to the Government's intentions. Obvious also would have been the requirement for advertising the position and conducting a competition. The nature of the appointment, the Government's pains to cement it in place quickly, to dress it up as that which it was not, and the timing of the events on 10th April, 1992, led to a clear inference that the promise and guarantee of the delivery of the senior executive service job were an inducement by the Government to Dr Metherell. That is the key. Here a learned Queen's Counsel says that these actions are nothing but an inducement. The definition of corruption under Independent Commission Against Corruption legislation is the requirement to have an inducement. A very close nexus is there and that is why it is important that this matter go to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Finally the learned Queen's Counsel said:
Needless to say there is no question that Dr Metherell has sat for and passed an executive examination, if any was prescribed for the class of position to which he [was to be] appointed . . . From our analysis . . . Dr Metherell neither passed a competitive examination nor was appointed to the position of Policy Director from among the officers already holding positions in the Premier's Department, the Department Head could not lawfully select Dr Metherell for the vacant position without its first having been advertised in accordance with the Act.
These are damning opinions from a learned Queen's Counsel. I would conclude by referring to Sunday Telegraph
editorial which says it all when it reported:
A Premier who's out of touch.
Mr Greiner displayed chilling cynicism by approving Tim Moore and Brad Hazzard's plan to appoint Terry Metherell to the Environment Protection Authority. The Premier then produced mind-boggling arrogance by admitting . . .
- that it was a political appointment -
. . . at least he got that right. Most people, no matter their political hue, have been outraged first by the opportunism portrayed in the entire exercise of Dr Metherell's resignation from politics and appointment as public servant.
I really do not have time to deal with the Leader of the House who obviously was very much in tune with what was going on. This sorry episode is an absolute disgrace for the people of New South Wales. No matter who has been elected to lead this State the people of New South Wales since time immemorial have always looked up to their leader and to the Cabinet of their leader. That position has always had standing in the State of New South Wales. Unfortunately, because of the actions of the Premier and the Minister for the Environment, that goodwill has gone out the window. The people of New South Wales are the worse for that. I therefore totally endorse this motion that will place the matter before the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
(Ermington) [3.45] I support the Premier's motion, which demonstrates to all members of the House and the gallery the probity of the Premier. This motion seeks the opportunity of using the services of the independent umpire created by this Government on a mandate of law reform, the Independent Commission Against Corruption, which restored probity to the government of New South Wales. In the Chamber today we have sought to depoliticise the process of making a determination. Extraordinary hypocrisy was demonstrated by the Leader of the Opposition in offering
advice, as if it were gospel truth, to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. This is an opportunity for an independent body created by this Parliament to determine in this matter the probity of the Government, the Premier, the Minister for the Environment and members of this House, the public service and elsewhere. A week ago the Parliament faced a hypocritical attempt by members opposite to politicise this issue with a parliamentary inquiry as opposed to an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry. Today this latter reference of the inquiry, by the Premier of this State, is supported by the Opposition. Members on this side of the House indicate not only confidence in the Premier and the Minister for the Environment, but also our fundamental support for the due process which has been outlined here. That will, in an unbiased, professional and legal way, determine the probity of these matters. Of equal importance, it will go to the heart of the issue about which I wish to speak at some length, that is, political appointments and their justification by previous governments, this Government or future governments.
The attitude of the Hon. Michael Egan in another place suggests that the Labor Party has learnt nothing, unlike this Government has, from this particular issue. We, on this side of the House, have foreshadowed legislation to restrict political appointments of former members of Parliament to those who have already retired for a period of one year. The Hon. Michael Egan has himself been twice the personal beneficiary of political appointment. What a hypocrite that makes him, having been twice the beneficiary of political appointments, since coming into this House, the upper House and the public arena. How can he imply that this is the first time there has been a political appointment? The Leader of the Opposition finished with a remark about the Queen and God saving the Premier of this State. What I have to say relates to the Governor-General of the nation, the Queen's representative. What greater political appointment and act of gross hypocrisy has there been from the once great Australian Labor Party than the politicisation of the office of the Head of State of the nation? The Governor-General, Bill Hayden, was a Labor Opposition Leader bought off, perhaps even induced by his colleagues to take up that position, so that the right-wing mafia of the Labor Party could roll forward to the national election with Bob Hawke from the Australian Council of Trade Unions as its leader.
Today, by way of reference, the Independent Commission Against Corruption will be asked to deal with this issue in a bipartisan apolitical way. The Independent Commission Against Corruption, like a host of other initiatives, was an initiative of this side of the House. This Government invites that body, not in its political framework but at arm's length from Executive Government, to decide this matter. I support the Premier, the honourable member for South Coast and other Independent members who unanimously, one would hope, would see the appropriate mechanism for inquiry as not being a parliamentary inquiry here or a no confidence motion to persuade the Premier and the Minister to step aside, but a full public inquiry by the body that should be responsible for reaching a view about this issue. The hypocrisy of Bob Carr is unbelievable. It is quite unfathomable and obviously almost too much for him to stomach because he could not stay in the Chamber for the all important debate; he had to rush out to consult with his advisers once again -
Order! I call the honourable member for Kiama to order.
- as to what loopholes he could put in legislation dealing with political appointments because he wants to roll out the red carpet to Australian Labor Party members as previous Labor parties have rolled out the red carpet to ALP members - and in superb style. Five previous political appointments will be germane to
the inquiry of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Obviously, precedents are relevant. For instance, if we are to ask the Premier of the day to step aside because of a political appointment, we are saying that every Premier and every Prime Minister of this country should stand aside. In a democracy a government of the day given a mandate for an ideology, a policy and a philosophy is expected to put in place people who will carry out the people's wishes on policy issues. It is appropriate that policy advisers in the Premier's Department do so.
In 1926 there was the first of a long trail of red carpet appointments by the Australian Labor Party. This has led to the motion in this place today and the Premier of the day giving a reference, by way of motion, to the ICAC to investigate this issue. In 1926 the Lang Government appointed an Independent member of the Legislative Assembly, A. D. Kay, to the Metropolitan Meat Industry Board. This was a Lang appointment, a Labor appointment of a member of Parliament to a body to remove the member from this place. The situation was not very different from that of the reprobate who went from the Liberal Party to the Independent crossbenches, the former honourable member for Davidson. As Kay had regularly voted with the Government, under the rules of the proportional representation system then applying, his place was to be taken by a Labor nominee. The Independent was out and the Labor man was in. This started in 1926 and did not stop there. In 1964 Colin Begg, a Liberal MLC, was made a Supreme Court judge by the Labor Government. That is poles apart from appointing someone as a policy adviser in the Premier's Department. Policy is the domain of the government and the party in power; it is the domain of the government given the mandate by the people. It follows therefore that a member could be appointed as a policy adviser. However, it does not justify the nomination of a member as a Supreme Court judge.
In 1973, when Neville Wran resigned as a member of the Legislative Council to take an Assembly seat, Labor would have lost its upper House seat at the subsequent by-election unless a Liberal resigned too. The Federal Attorney-General at that time, the late Senator Lionel Murphy, made a Liberal MLC, B. B. Riley, a Federal Court judge to ensure that Labor retained the seat. The great tradition of the Australian Labor Party of rolling out the red carpet extended not only to the Premier's Department but also to the highest courts of the land - the Federal Court, the Supreme Court or any court at call. A member could name the price and the Labor Party would corrupt the process. It is extraordinary hypocrisy that the Australian Labor Party - certainly respectfully supporting our Premier's reference to the Independent Commission Against Corruption of this matter - would have the public, the Independents, the House and the media believe - and they do not believe it - that it is cleaner than clean, that members opposite are the clean skins in appointments.
The New South Wales Labor Party has made loads of political appointments. The Leader of the Opposition in the other place claims to be the mouthpiece for the Opposition on political appointments. He is the mouthpiece because he has been the beneficiary of two political appointments. He has worked for Ministers and in the public service advising the government of the day. This man has the hide - the absolute hide, the raw hide - to say to the public of New South Wales that this Government is guilty of a political appointment. Every government is guilty because, under the system of government in Australia, we elect people usually representing political parties and so it follows that political parties will make appointments to carry out the will and mandate given by the election of those people to government. That is the role of the public service.
The Leader of the Opposition in the other place was a member of this House representing Cronulla from 1978 to 1984. His interesting track record is a salutary lesson for members opposite. After losing his seat in 1984, he was appointed to the Maritime Services Board by Laurie Brereton. That evoked some rather interesting and colourful tales, which we could well tell in another ICAC inquiry. He was appointed to the board for five years, the same timeframe as the appointment of Dr Metherell. As far as the Leader of the Opposition is concerned, it was a good five years; but for Dr Metherell it is not good enough. After serving for two years and resigning in 1986 to take up an unelected Legislative Council seat created by Barrie Unsworth - the right wing mafia was fiddling with the deck chairs in an attempt to save the Government by moving Barrie Unsworth to the lower House - the total the Leader of the Opposition received in director's fees was $7,319.73 gross. He was then appointed as senior policy adviser to Barrie Unsworth. This new position was created for him in the Premier's Department. The Leader of the Opposition in the other place lectures the Independents and the people of New South Wales on probity and politics and the appointment of Terry Metherell to a new position in the Premier's Department which was not in any way, shape or form dissimilar to that of his own former position.
Labor Party members are hypocrites. There are a dozen left in the Chamber to defend their attitude. Hardly a frontbencher is here because the frontbenchers want to get back to the red carpet treatment of Australian Labor Party members. They want to roll out the red carpet and create positions such as that once held by the Leader of the Opposition in the other place. He was given a grade 10 salary which has a 1992 equivalent of $48,000. John Ducker, the former Labor Council secretary and Australian Labor Party member of the Legislative Council from 1974 to 1979, was another right-wing mafia member who was politically appointed. There are pages of such appointments which, in the course of today's discussions, members will be able to detail. There are so many that one does not know where to start or finish. The only thing that is square is that the Labor Party members are the creators, the masters, the experts and now the hypocrites of political appointments in this State. This is no reflection on the Independents; they have not been in government and have not been able to appoint themselves to political jobs. But it is fair to say that some of the Independents were sought for political appointments.
The honourable member for South Coast, who is in the House today, well knows that the Labor Party tried to induce him from this House not so long ago. I heard him talk of this to my good friend Alan Jones on 2UE. The Labor Party wanted to give him a job as assistant Minister, a car, a driver and a salary. He nods because he knows that what I say is right. That is the track record of Labor in this State. There is not just the red carpet for the Independents, but the big white limousine. To the credit of the honourable member for South Coast and showing his intestinal fortitude, he was true to his principles then as he is today. He ought to be complimented on that. That cannot be said of the Leader of the Opposition in the other place, who took one position after another, resigning because his salary was not good enough and he had discovered that he could get a five-fold salary elsewhere in the Premier's Department. He put his hand out. He grins in corridors when speaking of the next time the Labor Party will be in government and its desire to make more of those sorts of positions.
John Ducker, the former Council chief, was appointed by Wran, not to a policy position in the Premier's Department, but as chairman of the Public Service Board. How could anyone corrupt a system to any greater degree than that? That is the track record of Neville Wran. He sought to corrupt the system by making a political appointment to
the position of head of the Public Service Board. John Ducker resigned as a member of the Legislative Council, and the salary that he was given is interesting. Its 1992 equivalent is $150,000. That was not the full package. The figure then was that magic figure of $110,000. The public service is meant to be apolitical. So it is that the Australian Labor Party's track record leaves it with no credibility and an empty wardrobe. Bob Carr is an emperor with no clothes. He lies to this House in his smart-alec fashion and offers an advising which has no credibility. He seeks to pre-empt an Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry that the Premier has stated in this House is the appropriate course to take. The Premier is the first Premier of this State ever to refer a matter of this nature to an independent commission of inquiry. The list continues: Phil O'Neill, a former member for Burwood from 1978 to 1984 - a political appointment; Peter Fitzgerald, the former Labor Mayor of Drummoyne, about whom much more will be said in this debate; Brian Bannon, a former ALP member for Rockdale from 1959 to 1986; Tom Webster, a former ALP member for Wakehurst from 1978 to 1984; Alan Stewart, a former ALP member for Manly from 1978 to 1984.
This is not a political trivial pursuit question, but if it were I would hope that members opposite would be able to tell me what those persons have in common after I have named them all I shall continue: our dear friend Kath Anderson, a former ALP Member of the Legislative Council from 1973 to 1981; Jack Renshaw, a former ALP Premier and a member of Parliament from 1941 to 1980; Jack Ferguson, a former ALP Deputy Premier until 1983; Eric Bedford, a former planning Minister from 1968 to December 1985; Kevin Stewart, a former health Minister from 1962 to 1985; Al Grassby, a former Labor Minister in Canberra; Don Burton, a former MLC from 1975 to 1984; Eddie Britt, a former member for Willoughby from 1978 to 1981; Fred Miller, a former ALP member for Bligh from 1981 to 1984; and - though I say this with great reluctance - Pat Hills, a former Deputy Premier; Peter McMahon, a former ALP MLC from 1983 to 1981; Lindsay Gordon, a former Labor Minister from 1970 to 1984; Roger Degen, a former member for Balmain; Les McMahon, a former Labor member for Sydney in the House of Representatives; Peter Cox, a former ALP Minister and member of this House from 1965 to 1988; Bill Robb, a former ALP member for Miranda; Ralph Brading, a former ALP member for Camden; and, since 1988, Michael Duffy, who left the New South Wales Labor Council after a row over a political appointment, and Peter Primrose, the former Labor member for Camden.
Those people, large in number but not the total of those listed, have one thing in common: they are the beneficiaries of the Labor Party's red carpet treatment of political appointments devised, constructed and created by that once great political party. It is disgusting and shameful that the Leader of the Opposition, demonstrating gross hypocrisy, should come to this Chamber and act as if he is lilywhite. He is guilty, guilty, guilty. It is a disgrace that the Leader of the Opposition should come to this Chamber to politicise what he has been, with his colleagues, a master at creating. I commend the motion of the Premier. The Independent Commission Against Corruption should be the final judge on such matters. The Government will stand 100 per cent by the greatest Premier this State has ever seen. [Time expired
(Blacktown) [4.5]: With much pleasure I shall endeavour to bring this debate back to the scope of the motion. Over the past few weeks the community at large, I and my colleagues on this side of the Chamber have been entertained, generally speaking, by some of the arguments that have been written and some of the wonderful cartoons about the personality of the former member for Davidson, Terry Metherell, that have appeared in the press. I am concerned, however, that the theme of many of those articles and cartoons has been the general unpredictability of the former member for
Davidson. We have been given a picture of a member of Parliament who could not be trusted on any level, a person who does not believe in anything consistently and who therefore is unable to sustain his belief or interest in any matter for a long period. That message relates in particular to his commitment to the environment.
Unfortunately, during the whole episode of the past fortnight, the environment issue has played a role at a variety of levels which I, as Opposition spokesperson on the environment, would have preferred it did not play. First, the job offered to the former member for Davidson was within the Government's own Environment Protection Authority - a factor that brought the authority immediately into disrepute. The job was offered by the Minister for the Environment and leader of the House, who is responsible for the EPA. His actions have brought the position of the Minister for the Environment into disrepute. In fact, many people in the community who still felt some respect for the Minister for the Environment were bitterly disappointed by the role he played in the whole affair. More important, the role of the environment featured significantly at a time when it is believed, and as has been alleged in the media, that the former member for Davidson was being wooed and induced by the Government to give up his seat for the position within the EPA. The Leader of the Opposition has referred already in some detail to the crucial dates between 6th March and 10th March when Terry Metherell was having discussions and negotiations with, it is assumed, the Premier, the Minister for the Environment and also the honourable member for Wakehurst in an attempt to get him out of Parliament and have him offered a job which would attract him not to return to this place. That was the period when the Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Bill was being debated in the Parliament - a matter referred to by the Leader of the Opposition in debate. At the time that Terry Metherell was in active negotiations with the Government about his job, honourable members saw the progression of that bill through the Parliament.
Many commentators would have people believe that Terry Metherell is such an unpredictable person that probably he never believed in the environment anyway and, therefore, his remarkable turnaround on 10th March, when he decided to support the Government's proposed legislation, is further evidence that he could not possibly walk a straight line let alone hold a straight position on a particular topic for more than several days at a time. But an examination of the history of the former member for Davidson in this Chamber over the past six months and of his interest and active involvement in environmental issues will show that he has been very consistent in his support for environmental issues and has been, as Matthew Moore wrote in last Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald
, perhaps the most vocal conservationist voice in this Chamber since he decided to defect from the Liberal Party in October last year. The evidence can be found in a number of Hansard
volumes published since October last year and in a number of contributions made by the former member for Davidson on several issues which establish his great interest and active involvement in environmental matters, at least up to 10th March.
The first bill to be discussed in this Chamber after the Metherell defection was the Protection of the Environment (Administration) Bill, the legislation which formed the Environment Protection Authority. The former member for Davidson took a most active role in debate on that bill and also in the negotiations at that time on the establishment of the EPA in this State. At that time I believe he took that role because he had a sincere interest in the issue. I would not like to attribute to him the motive that perhaps he saw at the end of his relatively brief parliamentary career as an Independent - a job for himself in the EPA. I believe that may have been a recent allegation of the honourable member for Tamworth about the former member for Davidson. At that time I entertained
no such suspicions, and I doubt very much whether I entertain them now. Nevertheless, before Christmas last year the former member for Davidson played an active role in the consideration of the environment administration legislation and also the endangered fauna legislation, which quickly followed.
At the beginning of this year the former member for Davidson registered his immediate new year interest in environmental legislation with his announcement that he would support the progress through the Parliament of a series of bills. They included, for example, the declaration of wilderness bills. After consultation with the environment movement in this State, in particular the Wilderness Society and the Total Environment Centre, the former member for Davidson was going to spearhead a number of declaration of wilderness area bills through the Parliament. He also hinted at support for a number of bills that would declare national parks in this State. So committed to that legislation, even in February, was the former member for Davidson, at a very early time in the debate about the declaration of wilderness legislation - I think at that stage he was only floating it in the media - that he was actively aggressive to the Labor Party because of its indication at the time that it would not support him.
As members left the Legislative Council Chamber after the joint sitting during which we welcomed Her Majesty the Queen I walked past the former member for Davidson, who had positioned himself on the end of a series of seats. He was able to lean forward and literally hiss at me that he was going to get me and the Labor Party for failing to publicly support his declaration of wilderness legislation. So in early to mid February the former member for Davidson had this stirring commitment to the environment. He had given notice of a number of bills. For example, he indicated that he would introduce a bill to extend the Garigal National Park. He had also started to steer through the Chamber the Environmental Education Bill. He had also given support to the Moonee Beach reserve bill. The member for Davidson indicated that he would support a number of major environmental bills. By early March, when the Government was well and truly in the midst of its struggle to pass the timber industry protection bill through the Parliament, the former member for Davidson was one of the most articulate members of the Chamber in supporting the legislation. So effective was he that on 6th March, less than four days before the legislation passed through this Chamber, the Minister for Conservation and Land Management, who was mentioned earlier in the debate by another speaker as having a fairly interesting role and one that the ICAC should examine very carefully, issued a bitter press release attacking not only the Labor Party but also the Independents.
The Minister for Conservation and Land Management, Garry West, said on 6th March that the Labor Party and the Independents had thrown a wild card into the timber debate which could result in new job losses. He also said, quite as strongly, that Labor and three Independents, and he named them - Metherell, Moore and Macdonald - had emasculated his bill. There is other evidence to substantiate the feeling that we all had that the former member for Davidson at that time was totally committed to various amendments that he had moved in this Chamber and other amendments that had been moved by other Independents and the Labor Party. So it was not just kite flying when Nick Richardson in the Australian
only several days ago was able to detail the activity that occurred from 6th March to 10th March relating to Metherell's role in the debate about the timber industry protection bill. It is not only our own evidence that we will be happy to provide to the Independent Commission Against Corruption when it inquires into this aspect of the possibility of corruption of the former member for Davidson with the collusion of the Premier and the honourable member for Gordon; there are also eye witness accounts of what the honourable member for Davidson was still saying on 6th March to the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Conservation and Land Management.
After this Chamber had risen the actions of the former member for Davidson substantiated his position of not supporting the Government with its legislation. One eye witness account which will be available to the Independent Commission Against Corruption is that on the evening of 6th March, 1992, the former member for Davidson met with the Minister for the Environment in the office of the former member for Davidson for some time between 6 o'clock and 7 o'clock on that Friday. At that stage the Minister for the Environment, who was terribly embarrassed by the fact that the Opposition and the Independents had been successful with their amendments to the timber industry protection bill, offered the former member for Davidson a compromise on wilderness which at that time was one of the few amendments that Metherell was concerned about. The Minister offered the compromise on wilderness if Metherell would withdraw the amendment he had already successfully negotiated with the Leader of the Opposition. The compromise of the Minister for the Environment was similar but not identical to the wilderness amendments which were eventually moved to the Government's legislation on 10th March. So on Friday 6th March, between 6 o'clock and 7 o'clock in the office of the former member for Davidson, the then Minister for Environment offered the former member for Davidson -
Still Minister for the Environment.
- a compromise agreement which at that stage was squarely rejected by the member for Davidson. The honourable member for Gordon gets a bit excited when these sorts of suggestions are raised. He has already had his opportunity to participate in the debate. His performance in that regard was atrocious. Let us hope that when he is before the Independent Commission Against Corruption his performance is not as bad, otherwise his future ministerial career will not last five minutes. There are eye witness accounts that on Friday, 6th March, the Minister for the Environment offered the former member for Davidson a compromise on wilderness areas which was firmly rejected. However, by 10th March, four days later, when the final vote was taken at about 9.30 in the evening there was a significant turnaround by the member for Davidson. At that time some people alleged that his natural unpredictability and lack of trustworthiness were just aspects of his fairly strange personality and therefore his actions were not to be taken very seriously. But in view of the events that unfolded in mid to late April investigative journalists and, I hope, the Independent Commission Against Corruption will look seriously at what occurred between 6th and 10th March and whether the change in the vote of the honourable member for Davidson on 10th March followed his sewing up a job with the Environment Protection Authority.
It is interesting that despite the fact that the former member for Davidson abandoned his most active opposition to the State Government on major environmental questions he continued to pursue other environmental issues of far less critical significance to the overall survival of the State Government. I refer to two bills. One is the Environmental Education bill, which the member for Davidson steered through the Parliament and which was eventually supported by both sides of the Chamber with Opposition amendments. Nevertheless, the former member for Davidson was prepared to allow that bill to proceed. That bill would have caused the State Government no embarrassment and certainly was not legislation on which the Government would stand or fall. The other interesting legislation that the former member for Davidson chose to pursue was the Garigal National Park Extension Bill. That bill becomes significant when the events of the past fortnight are examined. My colleague the honourable member for Keira, who is also the Opposition spokesperson on Aboriginal affairs, feels very strongly about what occurred on the day that bill was debated, which, as it transpires, was also the day on which the former member for Davidson submitted his resignation. The Labor
Party had been seeking to have the former member for Davidson defer that bill to allow widespread consultation with the Aboriginal movement. Initially he had been prepared to allow that consultation, and that process had started. However, it had only begun. On Friday morning a fortnight ago, the same day the former member for Davidson submitted his resignation, surprisingly he decided he wanted to pursue that legislation irrespective of the lack of consultation with the Aboriginal community.
It transpired that the reason that particular bill was pursued by the former member for Davidson at that time was that he wanted to leave this place in a great burst of glory. He wanted to leave the Chamber having introduced at least one bill that would directly affect his constituents on the Warringah peninsular, would directly benefit him and would perhaps give his departure from this Chamber the smell of grace rather than the particular stench it has at present. He was aided and abetted in the progress of that legislation by his colleague the honourable member for Wakehurst, who played various games on that day in a desperate attempt to make sure the legislation was carried. The former member for Davidson was aided and abetted also by his other great friend, the Minister for the Environment, in an attempt to have the bill passed. Fortunately, on that day the Labor Party ensured that the bill did not progress to its final stage, because the consultation with the Aboriginal community had still not occurred.
The point I want to make today, and I hope the Opposition is given the opportunity to make it to the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry, is that during the past six months since he defected from the Liberal Party the former member for Davidson has had a sincere interest in environmental issues. He has demonstrated that interest by his willingness to progress a number of key items of environmental legislation through the Chamber, but only to the point where they have not embarrassed the State Government. However, other environmental legislation such as the Timber Industry (Interim Protection) Bill and the bill dealing with the declaration of wilderness areas, to which the former member for Davidson was so committed in early February but had virtually ceased talking about by the end of February, were not processed through the Chamber by the former member for Davidson as they would cause embarrassment to the State Government and because by that time he had negotiated the job with the Environment Protection Authority and intended to look after himself in whatever he intended to do when he left this Chamber. I am disappointed not only about the role of the Minister for the Environment, the honourable member for Wakehurst and the former member for Davidson. I am disappointed because the whole environment portfolio has been brought into disrepute by what has taken place since at least mid-February. I am hopeful that Mr Temby will look seriously at this matter. He must scrutinise the course of events from 6th March to 10th March. Should he do so, he will find that the sordid deal to sew up the job with the Environment Protection Authority was probably done at that convenient time for the Government.
(Auburn) [4.23]: Earlier the Premier said that this motion involved a parliamentary reference to the Independent Commission Against Corruption in regard to what has become known as the Metherell affair. This matter should be referred to the Independent Commission Against Corruption for the purpose of determining the honesty and integrity of the Government. They are the words of the Premier. I recall an occasion when I was called upon without notice in this Chamber to answer a stupid but nonetheless serious allegation, which involved the bona fides of the Government, in regard to my conduct. At one stage during that debate I said, "What I did, I did for the egg carriers". The Premier laughed, and I said, "Well, you may judge people by your standards or your lack of standards but I am honest and I did what I did for those drivers". I refer particularly to that incident because the drivers actually came into this
Parliament to defend me. But where are the Government's speakers to this debate? Perhaps the honourable member for The Hills would like to say a few words about the matter? The honourable member for Ermington spoke about Labor appointments. However, he failed to realise that there is a marked distinction between what are commonly termed jobs for the boys and corrupt conduct arising from bribery. I shall say more about that later.
The honourable member for Wakehurst, who played a significant role in everything that has happened in the Metherell affair, is in the Chamber. When is he listed to speak in this debate? I should like to hear from him about the dinner he had with Dr Metherell and the Minister for the Environment when they were huddled together nutting out the great deal. Where is the honourable member for Burrinjuck? Where is the honourable member for Myall Lakes? Where is the honourable member for Monaro, who criticised the appointment? Why are they not telling us about their criticisms of the Greiner Government's appointment of the former member for Davidson? Their criticism does not exist. Honourable members know that the honourable member for Wakehurst - in conjunction with the Minister for the Environment - was the architect of this fiasco. Many members of this Chamber are honest and decent, and try to do the job they have been elected to do, but the Metherell affair stinks to high heaven. In legal circles, it is known as res ipsa loquitur, which simply means the thing speaks for itself.
The indictment of these men - the Premier, the Minister for the Environment and the former member for Davidson - is contained in what they have said since the story broke. The statements of Dr Metherell show clearly that he was aware of the possibility that it may be thought that he had been bought off. On 11th April he was reported on Australian Broadcasting Corporation news, Channel 7 news and in the Sunday Telegraph
as saying, "I just simply don't get bought off." It is perhaps a little unfair to say that a denial may point to corruption, but the obvious inference from the hard facts is that he was trading his parliamentary seat for a new job. From that statement the objective observer could rationally draw the inference that Dr Metherell knew what he was about when he did the deal to get the job. In an interview with Quentin Dempster on the "7.30 Report", when dealing with how he became friendly with the Premier again to enable him to obtain the job, Dr Metherell said:
It was just one of those happy accidents I guess, a mutual Hungarian friend wrote to me, having read the front page of the Budapest daily newspaper, I can't remember the name of it I must confess, and Nick had been over there in Hungary and had been interviewed, and this guy had translated the interview, sent it to me as a friend and said would I pass it on to Nick, and I did. I put a note with it and recalled some of the happier days I'd had in Hungary at an earlier time, and that just led to an exchange of notes and perhaps a somewhat more friendly feeling again.
Dempster: Did you discuss this transition to public service with Mr Greiner?
Dempster: Did you approach them, they didn't approach you?
Metherell: That's right, but not in the sense that I went certainly not direct to Nick Greiner and certainly not direct to Tim Moore.
He went to the architect, the honourable member for Wakehurst. That is one example of how the words in this sorry affair speak for themselves. There are statements which show that the former member for Davidson was clearly aware of his duty as a member of Parliament to represent his constituency. On the "Sunday" program on Channel 9, he said to Jim Waley:
Say, look at my record in this Parliament, the contribution I've made to public life and the contribution I have made as an Independent Member in this place. I just simply don't get bought off. I'm a determined person who sets out, I think, to serve the public interest and, yet, I've moved from serving the public interest in one way to serving it in another.
He has given various reasons for becoming an Independent to different people, particularly his constituents in the electorate of Davidson. He said:
However, as a backbench M.P., tied to the "Party line", I am unable to serve you to the best of my ability.
I quote him again:
Constituents and the public interest would be better served by more `free votes' in Parliament on key issues.
He also said:
As an Independent MP, I will continue to serve you and your family.
He said further:
Please continue to ring and write to me or my staff (Libby and Joy) for help with your problems and to tell us your views.
That was in October of last year. How the world turns and how attitudes change. He wished the people of New South Wales to believe that all of a sudden he had decided to change direction. In another statement in regard to the role played by the Minister for the Environment on the ABC news he said:
He approached me. It's not a question and it has never been a question of the Government going out and saying to Terry Metherell, `We want to buy you off to get you out'.
Now, that is a conflict, "He approached me" and yet, earlier I quoted his statement that they approached him. Mr Moore said to Jim Waley on Sunday
program on Channel 9:
Terry approached me and said this is an area of interest. Can I come sort of halfway back in from the cold, and continue to make a contribution to the wellbeing of NSW in an area where he and I have both shared a common interest for two decades.
That was a reference to the environment. Let me just hold up to the House a document of the speeches made by the former member for Davidson, Dr Metherell, in this Chamber. They date back to 1985. The first speech he made in this Chamber dealt with the innoculation of animals. On the 2nd May, 1989, he made another speech related to the environment, paper recycling. He resigned on 2nd October, 1991, and this is how many speeches he made on the environment and neither of them had anything to do with his own constituency or his own electorate. When honourable members consider this situation - two speeches before that date - they will know what his views were on the environment, yet he is supposed to be a most qualified person for this job. According to the Minister for the Environment, Dr Metherell had this great interest in the environment but it was not reflected in speeches made in this Chamber until he resigned on 2nd October, 1991. Mr Moore was asked by a journalist on the Frank Crook show whether the job did really exist or was it created because Dr Metherell fancied it. Mr Moore said:
I had discussed with senior officers of the authority last year when the original structure
was being done, whether it should be a four or five person structure, reporting to the Director General. I'd indicated at that time and continued to pursue the question of a long term strategic planning unit for it, and the approach by Dr Metherell to me merely added impetus to what was already happening. It certainly made it more powerful and it perhaps happened slightly sooner than would have otherwise been the case, but that was already being discussed at the time.
I turn now to the Premier and the things he had to say to Alan Jones on Radio 2UE on 16th April, 1992. He said:
. . . the Labor Party were more than past masters at political appointments and did them at a far more secretive way than this, which has been completely open and completely up front.
What he was trying to say was that if there was a wrong done by the Labor Party, two wrongs make a right; that he was up front about it and therefore that made it right. On 21st April, 1992, on the Alan Jones program he said a similar thing about Labor Party appointments. Therefore, because they did the same thing, that made it alright for the Premier to do it. This is the same person who, before he became Premier in 1988, told the people of New South Wales that under his Government there would be no jobs for the boys. Everyone would be appointed on his or her merits. I point out to the House that most of the speeches on environmental matters made by the former member for Davidson were made when he became an Independent. In regard to the political advantage to the Government in appointing Terry Metherell, the Premier said, on the John Laws program on Radio 2UE on 15th April, 1992:
Well, I'm not concerned about Dr Metherell one way or the other. It was simply my judgment that, 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 - for 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.
The list goes on and on in regard to statements they have made. So, res ipsa loquitur, the appointment speaks for itself as to the real motives behind it. Honourable members should also look at not only the people involved - Dr Metherell, the Minister for the Environment and the Premier - but at the role of Mr Humphry and the appointment; Mr Hazzard, the architect of the idea; Mr Maher; and the Cabinet itself. The Premier told Frank Crooke when interviewed on 2BL on 14th April:
. . . I'd say Cabinet overwhelmingly supports the decision.
In fact, the Cabinet ultimately did so after a long discussion which took all morning. What is the upshot of all of this? Honourable members heard what the member for Ermington had to say concerning jobs for the boys but this far surpasses what is the concept of jobs for the boys. It goes to the very essence of what could be corrupt conduct arising from a bribe -
The member for wherever is rarely in the Chamber and rarely speaks. The member for Gladesville speaks about corruption. Honourable members know about his activities in the court system in regard to corruption; and the question he asked in the Defamation Committee meeting yesterday was really pointing directly to himself. Let me tell the House what has been said in recent cases, in Regina
v. Jones and Webster
. In Allen's case, Judge Ducker of the District Court said:
It is difficult to find a totally satisfactory definition of bribery at common law, because most texts deal with the subject matter by reference to a number of decided cases, many of some
antiquity, rather than attempting an overall definition of the offence.
Arising out of those two cases it is said that bribery amounts to:
1. The conferring of an undue reward.
I take that to apply to the number of speeches relating to the environment, made by Dr Metherell in this Chamber and his activities in regard to the environment prior to his resignation:
2. A corrupt intention on the part of the giver to influence the receiver.
3. The receiver must perform a public function.
Surely Dr Metherell as a member of Parliament did perform such a function:
4. The giving of the reward must be intended to influence the receiver in the performance of his public function.
Resigning from Parliament for the purposes of giving the Government a majority in this House would fall directly under item 4. As I said, things speak for themselves. In his own words the Premier has been condemned:
5. The nature of that intended influence must be such as to incline the receiver to act contrary to the known rules of honesty and integrity. It is sufficient that there be an intended influence upon the doing of an act, not that there be such an act . . .
That was basically the situation and Judge Staunton summed up in similar vein. The bribing of officers who are members of Parliament is not new. In 1769 in the case of Regina
Lord Mansfield said, when dealing with an inducement to the Lord of the Treasury to sell or approve the sale of a public office to a person seeking to be elected to Parliament:
If these transactions (i.e. the sale of offices) are believed to be frequent, it is time to put a stop to them.
A Minister trusted by the King to recommend fit persons to offices would betray that trust, and disappoint that confidence, if he should secretly take a bribe for that recommendation.
A terrible consequence would result to the public, if everything that such an officer is concerned in advising the disposal of, should be set up to sale.
In the more recent case in 1923 of Regina
, where Boston was offered a bribe, Chief Justice Knox of the High Court of Australia said:
Nor is it disputed that an agreement to pay money to a member of Parliament in order to influence his vote in Parliament would amount to a criminal offence.
Justices Rich and Isaccs, in the same case, said this:
The real question, and that which has been fully argued for the Court's decision, touches very closely the political safety of the community. It is how far a member of the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales (and the same maybe asked as to any member of Parliament in Australia) can, without incurring any real personal responsibility - that is, other than political rejection, - make his public position the subject of profitable traffic by engaging in departmental intervention on behalf of individuals in return for private pecuniary consideration to himself.
That goes right to the heart of the matter. A summary of the evidence was given and this statement of Lord Mansfield appeared:
A Minister trusted by the King to recommend fit persons to offices would betray that trust, and disappoint that confidence, . . .
It was said that the same principle applies to a member trusted by the people to advise the King and watch the Ministers. The basic principle set down in dealing with members of Parliament appears in Regina
in 1802, and it states:
unlawfully, wickedly and corruptly devising and contriving to tempt, seduce and corrupt . . . one of the members of the Legislative Assembly . . . to prostitute and betray his duty and such member.
That being the law, and considering the facts I have stated and the numerous statements made by the participants themselves - not the allegations - the issue can be summarised as follows: the Government's purpose - and if there is any difference - the Premier's purpose in tendering advice to the Governor-in-Council to create the relevant proposition and make the appropriate appointment was to remove Dr Metherell from Parliament, thereby removing a source of instability to the Government. The only condition placed upon his appointment by the Premier was that he had the qualifications for the job. However, this did not amount to a merits appointment because there was no advertising of the position and no assessment was made of the persons qualified for and willing to accept the relevant position. Whatever the legal position, the participants - the Premier, the Minister for the Environment, and Dr Metherell - each regarded the position in question as being a gift of the Government. It may be reasonably inferred that Dr Metherell would never have applied for the position, which was specially created for him, unless he had an undertaking or arrangement with the Premier that he would be appointed to the position. They are some of the points. As was said in Regina
an agreement to pay money to a member of Parliament in order to influence his vote in Parliament would amount to a criminal offence.
Finally, I turn to the advertisement placed in the newspaper and Dr Metherell's two-line, poorly drafted application. One would have expected more from a person with Dr Metherell's qualifications. When Dr Metherell was Minister for School Education third-year trained teachers had to write an eight-page submission to the principal for fourth-year trained status. They had to include references. The principal would then make a recommendation after examining all the documents. One particular teacher applied for such status but her application was returned because the rules had been changed. She would have loved to put in a two-line application with her curriculum vitae. Had her application been successful she would have received an additional $1,200 a year. She would have loved to have put in a two-line application to receive $110,000 a year. In my opinion, on the facts as known in this matter, there can be only one inescapable inference: Dr Metherell was induced to resign by the Government offering him a Public Service position. Prima facie constitutes an offence of common law bribery or corruption.
(Smithfield) [4.43]: I welcome this opportunity to canvass the issues that have arisen as a result of this motion to refer the Metherell affair to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. It is an opportunity to canvass the depths to which this Government is prepared to descend for a short-term political advantage - and short-term it was. I note that the Attorney General is leaving the Chamber. I have something to say about him later, so he should remain.
Order! That is an exceedingly improper remark. Members are at liberty to enter or leave the Chamber at any time they wish. I ask the honourable member for Smithfield to withdraw that remark.
I accept your ruling. It was only a matter of hours after the former honourable member for Davidson and the current Minister for the Environment had ceased cuddling and kissing out on the green lawns in front of the cameras when the public's disbelief turned to outrage. The Government alleges that this matter is a media beat-up, that this outrage is merely expressed in the tabloids, on the radio and the television. I invite honourable members to visit their own electorates, go out on the streets in any electorate at any time of the day and ask people what their view is on this issue. They will tell honourable members that they are outraged. It is not a media beat-up. Constituents do not need Quentin Dempster or Matthew Moore to tell them what their view is on this particular issue. They are disgusted at the Government's conduct on this issue. But what is the Government's defence? I am pleased that the Premier is present in the Chamber. Mr Premier, the sword is out there for you to commit hara kiri. The Premier's defence of his actions is that it is a political appointment. That is no answer. As the Premier always says when he shows that he cannot speak English, "that argument is a nonsense". In 1988 the Attorney General, Minister for Consumer Affairs and Minister for Arts said, "I have no qualms about governments making political appointments provided the appointee is competent and the Government is honest about such appointments". However, the Premier did not pursue that tack. The Premier launched his career of monastic purity when he said to the people of New South Wales "If I am elected there will be no jobs for the boys". What a lie that was.
How dare the honourable member for Ermington accuse members of the Labor Party of hypocrisy. When did members of the Labor Party say that they would not make political appointments? It was this Premier who said he would make no jobs for the boys. I readily admit that we will make political appointments. We will make significantly less than Government members, who said that it should not occur. They are the ones who stood up on the mount and came down with the tabloids and said: "We shall sin no more. We shall make no political appointments". What a lie that was. Even if this were merely a political appointment, which it is not, on the suggestion of the Attorney General that one must have competence and honesty, on those grounds alone the Government fails. The Premier has made much about these so-called qualifications, and so has the honourable member for Monaro in his bleatings to the press about this issue. One only has to look at this so-called curriculum vitae. I invite members opposite to read it. Dr Metherell did a planning degree some years ago and then worked as a hack for his political masters before he became a member of this House.
As the member for Auburn said, Dr Metherell made a couple of speeches on the environment before he resigned as a member of the Liberal Party but a stack more after that. Obviously the inference can be drawn that he was setting himself up so that he could allege that he had great experience in regard to the environment to justify his appointment. The qualifications do not exist. However this issue is not about that. If it were there would be some hue and cry. If Terry Metherell were to resign as the member for Davidson for personal reasons, which I will not canvass, without discussing it with any Government member and some months later, quite independently, without any connection with his resignation a job was given to him, there would be some hue and cry and some justifiable outrage. There would be many perplexed looks and concerns from members on the Government benches, particularly from the honourable member for Monaro and others. But, they would be treated in the same manner and the same contempt as the appointments of, say, Neil Pickard, Kathryn Greiner, Bob Graham and Allan Andrews but we would not be referring those matters to ICAC because all those were political appointments. We could criticise each appointment and we did.
Neil Pickard and Kathryn Greiner were simply over the top, but we did not refer those to the ICAC. There is no suggestion there was any corruption in those appointments. There is no suggestion there was any corruption in the process of political
appointments in previous Labor administrations. There is in this one, and that is why it is being referred to the ICAC. We need to look at the role played by some of the players. I am disappointed the honourable member for Wakehurst is not in the Chamber because I think as the Independent Commission Against Corruption hearings unfold it will be very interesting indeed to fathom just what the role of the honourable member for Wakehurst was in securing the resignation of the member for Davidson from this House. I hear they did have a little dinner, and it will be interesting to see just who approached whom. I am told that when he was elected to this Chamber he was appointed as the liaison officer between the Minister for the Environment and the Independents. He was the arm twister. He was the person to talk to them. Often he could be seen cuddling up to them at the backbench and twisting their arm trying to get them to vote in a particular way. Now we learn that he was the intermediary between Dr Metherell and the Minister for the Environment.
I heard also that it was the former member for Davidson who approached the honourable member for Wakehurst and said: "I want to rejoin the Liberal Party. I cannot stand it. No one loves me any more. Everyone hates me. The honourable member for Burrinjuck, I cannot handle his angst any more. I want friends. I want to come back to the family. Please admit me; and what is more I cannot win the seat of Davidson as an Independent and I want an income". Well the word came and at least the Liberal Party had a morsel of decency because it told him then to go to hell. Why did it not do that when he came back to the honourable member for Wakehurst and said: "Well, if you will not take me back that means I am going to lose the seat of Davidson and I am not going to have any more money to live on. I will resign". I am told he said to the honourable member for Wakehurst: "I will resign but I want something. I am not going to leave this Parliament without having something in return. I want a job". The honourable member for Wakehurst passed that on to the Minister for the Environment. The Minister for the Environment said: "I did not initiate the inducement. I did not initiate the offer". When the honourable member for Wakehurst gives his evidence before ICAC he might well say: "Okay it is not true. The rumour that I actually approached the former member for Davidson is not true. He came to us". So what? All members on the Government benches think that if ICAC finds that the former member for Davidson made the approach they are all clear. Not so. If he came to you and said, "I offer to sell my position as a member of Parliament in return for a job" and you accept it, you are as guilty of a conspiracy as he is and on your own evidence that you accepted his offer, his approach, you stand convicted.
Dr Metherell claims he is not corrupt. This inquiry has to proceed so that we may determine whether or not that is the case. The honourable member for Wakehurst has much to worry about indeed. If he is found to have been the negotiator, the intermediary, he has much to worry about, not only about his place in this Chamber but his continued position as a solicitor. His friendship with the former member for Davidson has so clouded his judgment on this matter that he has allowed himself to be used to induce another member of Parliament to sell his position in this place. That is a very serious allegation indeed. It is clearly open for members to draw not only an inference but a conclusion from the passage of events that Dr Metherell, in fact, sold his job in the most shabby circumstances. One has only to look at events as they unfold - to look at the chronological sequence of events. February is when the approach was made first to rejoin the Liberal Party, and then there was the request for a job. Then on 14th March the advertisement appeared in the Saturday Sydney Morning Herald
advertising for senior executives in senior executive service. I daresay that the advertisement is so broad as to invite the inference that it may well have been designed to make it a position that Dr Metherell could justifiably apply for and therefore it could
be said that the advertisement fits the position. Just listen to the words in the advertisement:
Duties include undertaking special projects/assignments covering a wide range of activities throughout the public sector. Applicants should have a sound record of management experience at the executive level.
That could apply to anyone anywhere but the important point is "closing date 3rd April 1992". A very relevant time is 14th March. On 18th March, 1992, the Minister for the Environment wrote to the Premier seeking the establishment of a unit in the Environment Protection Agency for long-term strategic planning. On page 2 he referred to whether or not a suitable person could be found to lead it. On page 3 he referred to a helmsperson. Did he have Dr Metherell in mind at that point to fill the position? I believe he did. Much has been said of what occurred on 9th and 10th April. I do not believe it is just those dates. I believe there is a litany of examples from late February through to 10th April that confirms the conclusion that ought to be drawn - and I believe it will be drawn - that corruption was involved by the appointment of the former Independent member for Davidson.
Then in late March we have the Premier's vision statement - this joke. At least people are still talking about the Fightback and the One Nation statements, both provocative, both thoughtful, both major contributions to the future of Australian society. The vision statement was not worth the paper it was written on and the press were falling over each other to make a great joke of it. It is probably forgotten but the important point in the sequence of events is that the former member for Davidson used it as an excuse to say: "I am on the road to Damascus. I have changed my mind. Greiner is now all things good, not all things evil. He is now warm and green. I have changed my mind about him. The vision statement means everything". This, hopefully for him, may have been his key to the door for job security. Then, late in March - I believe after this vision statement rethink - there were the drinks between the Premier and the former member for Davidson, and this will be important. It will be important to know who initiated that particular meeting. Did the Premier ask for it? Did the former member for Davidson ask for it? What was said? Who said what? Was any discussion made about jobs? I believe it was.
Then on 1st April Dick Humphry wrote to the Minister for the Environment saying that approval had been given to the unit he sought. Of course, on 9th April there was the great sham of letters and draft minutes for Executive Council meetings, et cetera. We have heard much about this furious activity on 9th April. We all know how they are good at fast tracking. ICAC has already conducted an inquiry on North Coast land development. If this Government wants to get a job done, especially for mates, it wants to get it done in quick time. The Government decided that this piece of treachery, this piece of disloyal rubbish who ratted on his own party, ratted on a lifetime of loyalty, was the person who was going to be fast tracked out. He was the one who was going to be looked after - and look how they did it. It is a complete sham. These collections of letters that were released to the Independents simply compound the conspiracy. They simply provide the proof of what we believe occurred. One just has to look at them. There is an application for a job, a creation of a position in the EPA, the resignation from Parliament, and the appointment of Dr Metherell. All in one day. Almost unbelievable! Then the Premier can come out and say: "It was all done legally. The fact that it occurred on one day is beside the point". The people of New South Wales are not going to believe it.
It will be very interesting to see what the people of Davidson think of this matter. If the Government thinks that it will walk into a great victory in the electorate
of Davidson, it should have second thoughts. The former honourable member for Davidson defends himself on the basis that he did not take a bag of money. He actually volunteered that. He said words to the effect of "I cannot be bought". There is a bag of money; there is $110,000 per year for five years. The honourable member simply would not have resigned without the promised job. He clearly used his position. I suspect that he may have acted, in gross disloyalty to his party, to put himself in a position where the Government would have to act on his request for a job. This makes the situation even worse than it would otherwise appear. The preselection in the seat of Davidson was called with undue haste. We were all taken by surprise. The question that arises is: why so early? The Liberal Party might have said, "There is no election for three years, but we want to have someone working away there". We thought, "Fine, you want to campaign against a treacherous ratbag who holds an otherwise safe Liberal seat. That sounds good". Virtually the next day this situation exploded. The Liberal Party knew that the resignation was impending.
I would not want to be one of the Liberal Party officials cross-examined by the Independent Commission Against Corruption as to what he was told and why this preselection was called prior to this resignation. I bet that those officials are mired up to their necks and that a lot of people will be very uncomfortable when this motion is passed because, as the Leader of the Opposition and other speakers have said, diaries, appointment sheets, message cards and copies of correspondence will have to be presented; secretaries and staffers will be giving evidence, as will a litany of other people in the Liberal Party organisation. We will get to the bottom of the story, and heads will roll; I will be very surprised if they do not. If I were a member of this Government, I would be very worried indeed. the Premier, in not standing aside, is simply a hypocrite. Members of the Labor Party all know that. We all get sick of saying this but, if we say it often enough, the people of New South Wales will get it into their heads that he is a hypocrite and a liar. He stood up here, putting himself on a monastic mount again, saying that Neville Wran would have to stand aside. The heat is on his belly. Why does he not stand aside? He does not have the guts. [Extension of time agreed to.
Before I conclude, I comment on the Independents, particularly the honourable member for Bligh. I express my contempt of the manner in which she has conducted herself on this matter. She stands condemned for her behaviour. She has demeaned herself by basing her opinion on what somebody has said to her - on what the President of the Law Society has said to her. Will she support this motion? One day she says yes and the next she says no. On one day she says that it depends on what the people of Campbelltown say and on the next it depends on what the Law Society says. I take my gloves off. She stands censured for her inconsistency. Also I comment on the actions of the honourable member for Manly. I thought that the honourable member for Manly would show his resolute independence by censuring the Government and calling for the Premier to stand aside, but instead he has conducted a telephone survey of the 38,000 members of his electorate. He bases his voting in this place on who calls his office. What great strength of independence he has! Every time he votes in this Chamber, his staff have to run a telephone survey. That is contemptible. How many people called his office on this matter? If 20,000 people rang, I might say that he had some basis for his argument and that this was possibly a way of being democratic, but 287 people called his office. In his press release he sets out the response; 67 per cent said this and 18 per cent said that - so what! The press release detailed the question asked of his electorate:
If ICAC shows that the Government acted corruptly, do you believe it should lead to a change of government?
The press release continued:
19 per cent said yes. 81 per cent said no.
Does this mean that, no matter what the results of the ICAC inquiry the honourable member for Manly will say that 287 people out of 38,000 said not to roll the Government? Will they stand condemned? I will leave it to others to speak on the actions of the honourable member for South Coast.
Give him a serve too.
I do not think the honourable member for The Hills should interject. I will be kind to him today. There will come another opportunity for me to say many things about him, but I will not do that today. I suggest through you, Mr Speaker, that the honourable member for the Hills should not interject.
Order! I suggest that the honourable member for Smithfield would be out of order.
In conclusion, Dr Metherell and his three mates will come out of the ICAC inquiry smelling. It will be interesting to see what will happen to this former Community Polling expert. Some of us may have read the article by Laurie Oakes in the 28th April edition of the Bulletin
. What he said of Community Polling has direct relevance to this motion. He said:
The Community Polling episode, in other words, like the Metherell appointment, combined lack of scruple with political ineptitude, increasingly recognised as hallmarks of Greinerism.
Greiner, far from being a new kind of New South Wales politician, is right in the tradition of the late Sir Robert Askin - hardly an admired figure these days . . . The comparison with Askin will no doubt appal Greiner. But he has earned it.
We agree with that, and so do the people of New South Wales. I welcome this inquiry, and I believe that the Government has much to worry about.
(Bulli) [5.7]: Volenti non fit injuria: if one voluntarily assumes the risk of injury and is injured, bad luck. I say to the Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Ethnic Affairs and the Minister for the Environment, "Bad luck", because if one or two people in this Government deserve exactly what is happening to them today it is these two gurus of the Parliament who, since 1988, have torn asunder the meaning of the words democracy, discretion and fairness. The honourable member for Ermington is the only member of Parliament on the other side who has had the audacity - or at least the courage - to try to defend the Premier and the Minister for the Environment. Although I did not agree with what he said, I acknowledge his courage and conviction in trying to defend the indefensible. What he said though was unbelievable. He said that the Government is going to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, the independent umpire. This matter is not going to the ICAC because the Government has decided that this should be done. The truth of the matter is that we should not be going to the ICAC in the first place. The Government put itself into jeopardy and has brought itself before the ICAC.
I remind honourable members that the Government, when it first came to power, set up this legal system to attack and investigate members of the Labor Party. Not one member has come before the ICAC; let us look at what has happened. Hansard
records that I told the Premier, on the inception of the ICAC, as happened with the Fitzgerald inquiry in Queensland, that the Government would rue the day, and that it would return to haunt him. The Opposition and others outside the Parliament were aware at an early
stage of what was going on within the ranks of the Government. When the ICAC was instituted the Opposition was aware of rumblings in the Government, and it has come to pass that four or five Government members have been investigated by that commission. Once again an inquiry has been called for and will be conducted on this occasion in relation to a former member of the Government.
They were all cleared.
I do not deny they were cleared. Mr Temby, the head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, set up by the Government, had the audacity and brains to indicate that he would not be muscled by the Government. ICAC has been in place for some years but the Government has consistently got into trouble. When will the Government wake up to the fact that the people of this State live in a democracy and expect their democracy to be respected? This is but the latest of a long litany of problems caused by the Government's deceitful, cloak-and-dagger behaviour. The honourable member for Ermington spoke about political appointments. Members on this side of the House have stated that political appointments have been made by this Government and other governments over many years. However, corruption has not been mentioned except in relation to this last sorry episode in which the Government, in a short span of 20 hours, received a resignation after instituting a job advertising and supposed applicant culling process. As a former government employee I know that such a culling process normally takes at least four weeks. I understand through the Government that there were about 50 applicants, though none were women. What about equal opportunity, I ask?
How does the Government expect the people of New South Wales to respect it when it has no credibility. It was reported that on 10th April, at 1.30 p.m., Dr Metherell resigned as a member of Parliament. While listening to this debate I conjured up a vision of the Premier and Dr Metherell, with his declared lack of trust in the leader of this State, standing in a room eye to eye, one man holding a resignation, the other holding a job offer, saying, "You show me yours and I'll show you mine". At 1.30 p.m. on 10th April Dr Metherell handed in his resignation together with an application for a senior executive service position in the Environment Protection Authority - a position that Dr Metherell only months before had criticised when he defected from the Liberal Party. At that time he had criticised the system and the amount of money that had been poured into it.
On handing in his resignation Dr Metherell - a defector from the Liberal Party and a former Minister - was offered $110,000 and accepted a job from the Government which he had formerly criticised. Dr Metherell was promised half a million dollars from the public purse over five years to resign from Parliament so that Greiner could cop it sweet in a by-election. Is this democracy in action? The Independents, in supporting the Government, will probably criticise the Labor Party and its past performance but do not seem to realise that their powers and functions will be weakened by a Government win in the coming Davidson by-election. The Independents are their own worst enemies. The Independents, including the honourable member for South Coast, should realise that their political play over the past week which attracted headlines will work against them. The ICAC inquiry, which will expose the Government and its corruption, will also work against the political plays of the Independents in this House.
The honourable member for Ermington spoke about political appointments but
omitted to mention those made by the Government. In 1988 the Government came to office on a promise that it would stop political appointments. Nevertheless, the Government appointed its Minister as Agent-General to London because he was getting too old for his job. The former member for Heathcote lost his seat, tried but failed in Coogee, moved to Minister Moore's department but could not cop it there, and was moved to the portfolio of the Minister for Housing. The former member for Heathcote is like a moving target: he cannot be found and no one knows how much he is paid. The general approach taken by the Government is to keep everyone moving so that no one knows what is going on. Mr Clough resigned and, I believe, is engaged in mines subsidence somewhere. Mrs Greiner would have got away with a certain amount. Honourable members could not forget poor old Bob Graham, former member for the Entrance, who is still employed by the Government. The Government looks after the boys whenever a crisis occurs in its ranks. The Government came to office in 1988 on an absolute promise to cease political appointments but has since made five such appointments and broken two hundred other promises and perhaps more. The people of New South Wales are not interested in hearing about an appointment made 50 years ago of a Liberal Party member to enable the Labor Party to gain a seat. On 28th April Laurie Oakes, one of the best political correspondents in Australia, expressed the following view in the Bulletin
Securing Metherell's resignation from politics by creating a well-paid taxpayer-funded job for a man the Liberals call a traitor was so unscrupulously opportunistic that voters are unlikely to forgive and forget.
The elected Government, which has blatantly disregarded the rules time and again and covered its deceit with more deceit, expects the people of New South Wales to continue to support it. At the last election the Government had ample opportunity to put itself and its credibility before the people but came near to being resoundingly defeated and almost lost the treasury benches through its actions, arrogance and deceit evident prior to and after 1988.
Of course, that never happened before 1988.
How long was Wran in office, one may ask? The Government, lacking credibility, has been in office for barely a dogwatch and is almost out on its ear. Government members must be blind or stupid, and I know they are worried. Though the Premier and a Minister are under severe attack, only four Government members and the Minister for Natural Resources are present in this Chamber to defend them.
It shows how boring it is.
Ivan, if you do not take a valium, please get up and make a 20-minute speech later.
Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Tink):
My apologies, Mr Acting-Speaker, but I continue to be interjected upon. I suggest the honourable member might be advised that he has an opportunity to speak later in the debate.
Order! The member with the call would do better to address the Chair. He might then find he is interjected upon a little less frequently.
Laurie Oakes went on to say:
Greiner . . . pledged clean and accountable government, an end to the perks and "jobs for the boys" and an all-out drive for honesty among public officials through the creation of an Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Government members have brought themselves to the brink of destruction. They cannot go any further without calling an election. When the Independent Commission Against Corruption sees some of the issues it has to deliberate upon in the coming weeks it is possible it will find that this Government has done something so corrupt that the commission will have to take action. It may have to look at ways of calling for a full election. Apart from the fact that the honourable member for Manly has called a telephone poll of 200 people, the people of this State are so incensed about what Government members have done they are ready to throw them out on their ear tomorrow. That is why there is so much fear opposite. They know from their polling and from the feedback from members' offices that the Government is on the nose with the electorate, and rightly so. I hope that the buck does not stop with just the Minister for the Environment and the Premier. I understand that this morning or yesterday morning Cabinet met and supported the actions of the Premier and the Minister for the Environment. If the Independent Commission Against Corruption finds that something untoward has taken place, this Government has no option but to call a full and general election. It will have no right to sit on the treasury benches. It will have lost its right to represent the people it is supposed to protect. It will have given itself a mandate to return to the Opposition benches, where it is doomed to be again.
In the past six months - in the past three years - this Government has shown itself to be receptive to any sort of jobs for the boys opportunity that comes up. It has shown itself to be totally receptive to accepting what can be considered only as political bribery so far as I am concerned as a member of the Opposition, in the way that it has acted. I do not believe that even Dr Metherell is clear of his actions, regardless of his statements. I have read a number of his speeches, particularly the speeches some weeks ago in regard to logging. When I went to the Hansard
only recently I was surprised to see the voting pattern. It is no wonder that media representatives sit with their mouths open wondering at the immediate change of heart - and vote - just prior to the Government allowing the former member for Davidson to take a senior management position. It all points to one thing. It really concerns me as a member of Parliament. When I came to this House not so long ago I realised that the credibility of members of Parliament had to be worked on. Two years ago I was shocked and dismayed when a magazine showed the credibility of different professions, from doctors and professional people through to members of Parliament and used car salesmen. Members of Parliament as a whole had a credibility rating of 11 per cent. That was two years ago.
You can thank the Wran years for that.
I think in this State we can thank the National Party in the last couple of years, with all the bad publicity it got. It is no wonder the people of New South Wales are fed up. The way to gain credibility is to not get bad publicity in the first place. [Extension of time agreed to.
The provisions of the New South Wales Local Government Act show a major discrepancy. As a former alderman of Wollongong City Council and the former Deputy Chairman of Illawarra County Council I was always under scrutiny by governments - whether Liberal or Labor - in relation to the way I conducted myself as an alderman. Section 95, under the heading "Ex-aldermen and ex-councillors not eligible for appointment as servants", reads:
(2) A person who has held office in a council shall not be eligible to be appointed to any position in the pay of that council until six months have elapsed from his ceasing to hold such office.
Section 95(4) reads:
The council shall not appoint or pay any person in contravention of this section.
Do Government members not think there is a conflict? The Government is asking aldermen who hold an elected position not to hold a position in local government employment for six months. Yet in this case almost within six hours of resignation the wheels were in motion to hand over half a million bucks to a traitor, to someone who defected. If it is going to give him half a million dollars, what would it give an Opposition member? We must be worth at least twice that. We might have a few people on our side saying, "If Terry Metherell can get it, I wonder what Tim Moore and the Premier will give me". But we have more credibility than to do that. We will be here when the ICAC inquiry is completed and we will drive this Government into the ground. What the Government wanted was a helmsperson. Using that naval terminology, we ended up with a pirate. The Government pirated the democracy of the people of New South Wales. I am disgusted, as the people of New South Wales should be. Prior to any deliberation by the ICAC, this Parliament should resolve that the Minister for the Environment and the Premier, who aided and abetted him, should stand down until the matter is investigated by the ICAC.
Mr ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Tink):
Order! It being 5.30 p.m., pursuant to sessional orders the debate is interrupted.