ICAC Report On Investigation Into The Metherell Resignation And Appointment
ICAC REPORT ON INVESTIGATION INTO THE METHERELL RESIGNATION AND APPOINTMENT
Mr HAZZARD (Wakehurst) [5.31]: I want to thank the House for granting me unlimited time this evening but, having now heard what the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition have had to say, I do not think I will avail myself
of that unlimited time. It seems to me that most of what has been said by members of the Opposition has related to matters that, at this stage, really do not need to be raised. The Opposition is going back over all sorts of ground. They would like to be able to cause the Government to be painted with a brush of corruption. As I look into the eyes of most honourable members opposite, I believe they know that this Government is not corrupt. They certainly know that what has happened today has resulted in a gross injustice. The real concern of the people of New South Wales is not what is happening here today; the real concern of the people of New South Wales is good government. The cameras from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation have provided the opportunity for those people to see just how much hullabaloo and rhetoric can occur here when the Opposition determines that it can make some political mileage out of a particular issue.
It is in the interests of good government that this Government get on with doing its job - the job it has been doing so well for the past four and a half years. I propose, therefore, to make some comments related primarily to more personal matters. I do not propose to go back over the details of the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry. I propose to focus on what I consider to be the injustice of what occurred today, and that is today's decision by my colleagues, the former Minister for the Environment, Tim Moore, and the former Premier, Nick Greiner. It is a very sad day for New South Wales; it is a very sad day for me; it is a sad day for all of my colleagues; and I believe there is probably an element of sadness among some members on the other side who understand what really is happening. Today's decision has been forced by the so-called non-aligned Independents. They have acted in a way that will cause them to be judged by the people of New South Wales. The people of New South Wales know that Nick Greiner and Tim Moore - as I know and as my colleagues know - are men of absolute honesty and integrity. Nick Greiner has led the Liberal Party since 1983. It was his early leadership that caused me to take a particular interest in the Liberal Party and to join the Liberal Party.
In the time that I have worked with Nick Greiner and Tim Moore I have been touched by their decency, their right-minded motives, their sincerity and their dedication to the improvement of the lot of the people of New South Wales. Three people - who are no longer in the Chamber - have put themselves above the bounds of decency. Their moralising sits uncomfortably with the people of New South Wales. Indeed, I would say it is perilously close to being a blatant act of terrorism on the people of this State. This act has led two decent men who were involved in the Independent Commission Against Corruption proceedings to stand down, and I think it is abominable. It is appalling. Last night the honourable member for South Coast said that this Government was the most honest he had known in the past 19 years. I do not think there can be any dispute that the architect of that integrity was Nick Greiner. Tim Moore reflects that integrity, that decency and that honesty in every possible way.
I am at a total loss to understand how the three so-called non-aligned Independents can take the position that they have. The honourable member for South Coast, notwithstanding his perception of his own integrity, has led his so-called mini-party of non-aligned Independents into an abyss of injustice, and I believe it is an abyss from which they will find it hard to return. I do not understand how two of the most respected and decent people in the community can be denied, by these three people, the fundamental right that is available to every citizen, that is, the right to go to the Supreme Court of New South Wales and to vindicate themselves of accusations that have been levelled at them. I am sure that, faced with exactly the same situation, those three people would demand that right. But today they could not see that. They were blinded by factors that I do not understand and that I do not really want to understand. What was being sought was a delay of only one week - a not unreasonable delay. It would not have slowed the processes of this place. What sort of misplaced, arrogant attitude could direct
itself to such a fundamental denial of basic human rights? One of the first things a lawyer learns is the absolute right to natural justice. Perhaps it is that, with no legal training, each of the three of them does not understand that concept; I do not know. What a danger it is for the people of New South Wales that these three people, who represent less than 1.3 per cent of the vote, can hold this place to ransom.
Mr Greiner and Mr Moore were committed to doing a better job for New South Wales, to improving the quality of life and doing what was right. Mr Temby acknowledged that fact. He spoke of Mr Moore as believing that he was an honourable man, and I think Mr Temby said he would not cavil at that. He referred to Mr Moore and Mr Greiner as men of honesty and integrity. Those are the values by which those men should be judged. Tim Moore is a man dedicated to the core values of decency. During the period that I worked with him and the Premier I never ceased to be amazed by their values of decency, honesty and integrity. I use those words because they are the words that keep coming back to me. Tim Moore and Nick Greiner had visions for New South Wales. They were working on those visions, and I suppose one could say they were struck down in the course of doing that by an injustice perpetrated by the three Independents. I find it hard to accept that anyone in our community, let alone three representatives of the people, could take that stance; but one thing I have learned in the past couple of months is that many people are prepared to attack one's character, personality, position and one's views on life. There is something fundamentally wrong with an institution that allows that to happen. I do not direct my attack in a broad-ranging sense to the Independent Commission Against Corruption but I join with other Liberal Party colleagues in saying that certain things about the commission will need to be examined in the ambit, I hope, of a bipartisan parliamentary committee, to ensure that other individuals in society are not subjected to the injustice that I believe has occurred in this instance.
I turn now to the Metherell diaries. It is beyond me how those diaries were allowed into evidence and splattered in the press for the purposes of sensationalist headlines. The fundamentals of the Independent Commission Against Corruption - its real purpose - are correct. It is everything that the Liberal Party and the National Party stand for, but it needs to be re-examined in a dispassionate light, perhaps not the light that I am offering today, to ensure that others do not suffer the injustices that the people who appeared before it have suffered. The past two and a half months have been hell for me, my wife and family, Tim Moore and his family and Nick Greiner and his family. I wish to formally record my supreme admiration for the members of our families - Tim Moore's wife, Eve, Nick Greiner's wife, Kathryn, and my wife, Beth - for the support they have given us. Regardless of what has happened today, regardless of the fact that my colleagues have stood down, to me and I am sure to all members on the Government benches, and I suspect to a great many on the Opposition benches, they will always be known as the honourable Nick Greiner and the honourable Tim Moore.
Mr WHELAN (Ashfield) [5.44]: This important debate arises out of a joint reference of the Parliament to the Independent Commission Against Corruption, chaired by Mr Temby. Honourable members know from what has transpired that members of this House and a former member of this House appeared before the commission. The decision of Mr Temby is contained in the document that is the subject of this debate. The Opposition has not taken the opportunity in this debate to amend the motion before the House that the report be noted - though the Opposition was very much tempted to do so in view of the premeditated attacks by two Ministers of the Crown, namely former Minister Yabsley and the Minister for Justice, other members and Mrs Greiner on the integrity of the witnesses, radio commentators on the integrity of the Independent
Commission Against Corruption, and this afternoon the attack by the honourable member for Vaucluse, like a religious perversion, on the future of Mr Temby, the chairperson of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, and the institution itself.
Since that time not one word has been raised in defence of the Independent Commission Against Corruption or its commissioner. I have here a copy of his report. This is the report that the Parliament commissioned. The Opposition did not ask Mr Temby to give the contents of the report. The Australian Labor Party was excluded from the hearings. There was no political input by the Opposition. This report was prepared by Mr Temby, assisted by Mr Clark, Q.C. Mr Clark came from Victoria. He is an independent member of the Victorian bar. I do not know whether he is a member of a political party. I remind honourable members of what counsel assisting Mr Temby said about three members of this House, two of whom were found guilty of corruption under sections of the Act. The honourable member for Wakehurst was found not to be so guilty of that corruption. When one listened to the emotional speech of the honourable member for Wakehurst one had to have some feeling because clearly he is under some pressure. But this is what Mr Temby said of Mr Hazzard:
He went on to say the honourable member for Wakehurst was not involved in any criminal offence and there were no reasonable grounds for dismissing him as a member of Parliament. If it is good enough for the honourable member for Wakehurst to accept the fact that he was exonerated, he should accept the umpire's decision in relation to Moore and Greiner, particularly in relation to the former Premier of this State, a man who has deserted the Parliament, who did not come into the Chamber today, who showed his absolute cowardice in not facing his peers. He was the one who moved the motion that sought to have the Parliament resume. On 28th April during the censure debate he said:
He can fairly be described as an intermediary. However Hazzard made no decisions . . . he was not exercising official functions.
On the question of corruption he said:
This House should await the findings of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, when we will be able to determine all matters, judge them fairly, judge them in the cool and dispassionate light of analysis . . .
He also said:
This is the question that remains and it is the question that the Independent Commission Against Corruption is specifically set up to deal with in its terms of reference and objects.
Now he walks away from it. He walks away from the law that he introduced into this Parliament. In 1988 the then Premier of New South Wales said:
I am fully prepared to be judged by this House once the Independent Commission Against Corruption reports - but that is the time and not before.
He knew in 1988, but he does not know today. He said:
The third fundamental point I want to make is that the Independent Commission Against Corruption will not be a crime commission.
This is the man who had the convenient memory lapse, the man who suffered from amnesia, the man who would not answer the questions because his counsel advised him that to do so would, without doubt, leave no alternative but for the Independent
Commission Against Corruption to bring down a finding of criminality. He not only ran away from the debate in this Parliament but showed his complete cowardice before the Independent Commission Against Corruption and feigned bad memory. He has a good memory when it comes to figures but a lousy memory when it comes to facts. The fact is that the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai has ducked his parliamentary obligations in this Chamber today and he ducked them when he was the Premier. He will not accept the umpire's decision. The Supreme Court application is not a challenge to the report. It is an application for a declaration under a prerogative writ called certiorari. There are a few prerogative writs, including mandamus and prohibition, but this is the least known of them. One cannot find many instances of certiorari in the New South Wales Law Library because the most recent dates back to the sixteenth century. Government members dug back to the sixteenth century to attempt to find some law that will help them overcome the report of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. That has been fairly reported on but it is only members opposite who have not accepted it.
Government members have attacked the Australian Labor Party but most of their time has been spent venting their spleens on the three Independent members, trying to convince them of the error of their ways. I do not speak for the Independents; I do not plan ever to speak for them. They will make their decisions in due course. The consistency of their approach is evident from what happened today. They would not stand by and let this House, this Parliament and the people of this State have a Premier against whom the Independent Commission Against Corruption had made an adverse finding - a Premier who because of this report has a smell of corruption about him and will always have that about him. The Independents delivered the ultimatum to the Government that the Premier, Nick, must go, and he went. That shows the ferocity of the Parliament and the determination of the Independents.
As I said, the outcome of the Supreme Court matter is not relevant to the report of the Independent Commission Against Corruption or to the future vote on the motion of no confidence in the Government, notice of which has been given by the Leader of the Opposition. The report of the Independent Commission Against Corruption is before the Parliament. It already has the immunities and privilege of this House because the House resolved that; parts of the Act provide for that. In Mr Greiner's claim before the court he said that the report is invalid and beyond power, and that it has no effect. He said that the finding that his conduct was corrupt within the meaning of the Act is an invalid finding and beyond the power of the commission. He said that, despite the fact that he, the former Premier of this State, moved jointly in this Parliament for the matter to be referred to the commission. The resolution of the House was to request the Independent Commission Against Corruption to ascertain whether any corrupt conduct has occurred, is occurring or is about to occur. That was the commissioner's obligation, and he found corrupt conduct. He found it in respect of the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai and in respect of the honourable member for Gordon, but he did not find it in respect of the honourable member for Wakehurst or in respect of Dr Metherell.
Reference has already been made to the fourth claim before the Supreme Court, which states that the Premier is not a public official. The ground upon which the former Premier's legal advisers have told him to get into court is to convince the court that he is not a person referred to as a public official. The Independent Commission Against Corruption Act does not apply to the Premier, or so Mr Greiner's lawyers say. However, it states that a public official means an individual having public official functions or acting in a public official capacity, and lists a number of people. It refers to His Excellency the Governor. The Governor can be covered by the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act. It refers also to a person appointed to office by the Governor; an officeholder; a statutory officeholder; a Minister of the Crown; a member of the Executive Council or a parliamentary secretary; and a member of the Legislative
Assembly. The members of this House are all public officials and can be brought to book - but not the Premier of New South Wales. In his application the Premier seeks a declaration from the Supreme Court of New South Wales that he is not a public official within the meaning of section 9(1)(c) of the Act. He wants to exempt himself. But, of course, it applies to everyone else. They are all public officials but he says: "Not me, Nick Greiner; I am the Premier of New South Wales". What a specious piece of legal jargon rubbish this is!
Why did the former Premier not issue an application for time delay? That is all he needed to do. If the Government thinks it can hoodwink the public into believing there is any substance in this document, it is wrong. The same degree of chicanery is involved in both instances. Does the Government believe that the Independent Commission Against Corruption will not take the matter to the High Court of Australia; or will the Government say that the commission cannot do that? Of course it will. Is the Government going to interfere in the administration of justice? You can interfere in the administration of justice. There is no doubt about it, if the former Premier -
Mr W. T. J. Murray: I take gross offence at that insult and I demand a withdrawal, and apology now.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Ashfield will withdraw and apologise.
Mr WHELAN: I withdraw and apologise. This application before the Supreme Court is not about clearing the former Premier of the State. It is about finding some nit-picking faults in the jurisdictional limits of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act. The House will remember that the former Premier said that he was technically guilty and technically honest and technically of good integrity. Well, he is trying to find a technical flaw in the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act. It is this Government's own Act. It is going to try to find flaw in it for the purposes of letting the former Premier off the hook. That is what it is all about. Government members having the audacity to say to the court that the Premier is not a public official is beyond the pale. Are they arguing that the definition in section 9(1)(c) is somewhat narrower? In private submissions before the Independent Commission Against Corruption both Mr Greiner and Mr Moore argued through their counsel that the definition of a public official applies to public officials in an employment sense, in the sense of a master and servant, but not to the Premier of New South Wales. As I said, the net is cast wide for everyone except for the Premier of New South Wales.
If the narrower definition sought on corruption applies, the Premier should be reminded of what he said in 1988, that the charter of the Independent Commission Against Corruption was not to investigate crime generally and, indeed, was not to have a prosecutorial role. I conclude with what counsel assisting the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Mr Clark, had to say. It should be remembered that Mr Clark is not a member of the New South Wales bar but an independent counsel brought from Victoria by Mr Temby - undoubtedly because Mr Temby felt it would be better for New South Wales to be at arm's-length from this very important inquiry. I refer honourable members to the transcript in relation to the question of bribery. In his argument to the commissioner, Mr Clark said that the Premier not only was guilty of criminal conduct but was guilty of bribery. That is not our submission; it is the submission of counsel assisting the Independent Commission Against Corruption. The commissioner decided not to take cognisance of that; he decided not to adhere to it. Do I hear honourable members opposite saying that was a great decision by Mr Temby? Of course not. According to Mr Clark, Mr Temby may have erred.
This is the first time we have had a reference from the Parliament. What is the status of this reference? Is it different from all of the other proceedings now that it has been reported? This is a fundamental question and one of the first questions for the Supreme Court to consider. Mr Greiner seeks a review of the commission's finding that his conduct was corrupt. He does not dispute any of the facts found by the commission. He seeks only rulings that the findings of the commission, based on those facts, are invalid, beyond power and of no effect - not wrong, but invalid and beyond power. The appellants would seem to base their claims on legal arguments as to the definition in sections 8 and 9 of the Act and the absurd claim that they are not public officials. Then, despite that, they seek that the ICAC be directed to report that they have not engaged in corrupt conduct. They want to have the cake and eat it as well. Either the ICAC has the power to make findings of corruption on the undisputed facts or it does not - or are there other facts that we do not know?
Whether or not the ICAC on a joint reference is acting in some special constitutional capacity, it is certainly clear that it acts administratively in its normal inquiries. Hence the well-established presumption that administrative actions must be presumed to be valid unless a court rules otherwise. It has been held in committal proceedings - Mr Speaker, as a former practitioner you would know this - that magistrates should not treat a proposal to bring, or the bringing of, proceedings in the Supreme Court as if to do so would operate as a stay of proceedings. It has been held that "a magistrate should proceed, unless and until a stay of proceedings is ordered by the Supreme Court". If a magistrate is to proceed, despite action being taken in the Supreme Court, how could it be argued that Parliament itself is denying natural justice and should be stayed in these proceedings, when it was Parliament that called for the report?
[Mr Speaker left the chair at 6.3 p.m. The House resumed at 7.34 p.m.]
Mr W. T. J. MURRAY (Barwon - Deputy Premier, Minister for Public Works and Minister for Roads) [7.34]: It has been said on many an occasion, "The King is dead. Long live the King". On those occasions it has been well recognised that the passing of one has led to the continuation of a process that has been in place for many years. The process that was started in 1988 by Nick Greiner will continue for many years. I would suggest that the Opposition, which wishes to denigrate the processes of Greinerism, will do so at its own cost. On 5th July, 1985, I became Leader of the National Party in this Parliament. At that time Nick Greiner was the Leader of the Liberal Party. He had only just become the leader prior to the 1984 election. Following Leon Punch's resignation, we became associated in a partnership in which we both recognised each other's strengths and weaknesses. At the same time, we were able to work in an atmosphere that I have always felt was one of complete trust and complete recognition of the other's position.
Honourable members should realise that, when dealing with and being part of a process of developing policies and ideas, as a person who failed his leaving certificate, I had no trouble in sitting down and having a yarn with Nick Greiner on any subject at all. The fact is that he was a man who could put ideas, theories and explanations into words that any of us could understand. The greatest part of that association was that never at any time was there a denigration of one or the other. At no time did one believe one was superior to the other and, as a result of that, we were able to create a pretty good team. The 1988 election came about for many and varied reasons. It was won by the coalition, once again for many and varied reasons. But the fact is that we as a pair made a commitment to each other early in the second half of 1985 that we were going
to win the 1988 election. It did not matter what the circumstance or problem was; we would sit down and work out a solution. It meant that we did for each other things that we would never have dreamed of doing.
I well remember that at the end of 1987 Bob Carr introduced into this Parliament the Wilderness Bill. He thought that the greatest thing about it was that it would divide the Liberal and National parties. He thought, "This will be the basis on which Labor cracks the coalition and, as a result of that, may be able to hang on to government". I might add that there were some pretty heavy yarns going on in those days. Tim Moore was strongly in favour of the Wilderness Bill. It was the total antipathy of the National Party; we would not have a bar of it. We sat down, we looked at the legislation, we debated it, we yarned, and we went back to the commitment of 1987. We said, "If we are going to get government, we cannot be divided on this issue. How will we get around it?". I will never forget that night. Carr had made his second reading speech and Tim Moore was to respond. He stood and said, "The Liberal Party supports this legislation", and sat down. There was the greatest flurry ever on Labor's side of the House. A speaker was pushed up. He spoke briefly and sat down. I stood and said, "The National Party supports this legislation". At that time Bob Carr had not even got to the House.
Those are examples of the trust that was evident in those days. At no time since has it diminished. At some time in the future when we look back on the events of these days we will be examining a piece of history that was created by what I can describe only as the greatest act of political bastardry ever perpetrated in this Parliament. The shadow attorney general spoke about the facts and the law, the reality of the law and the combination of the law and Parliament. He tried to use his contribution to this debate to denigrate Nick Greiner. He failed to do so, and failed miserably. I think he protested his innocence too much. The shadow attorney general would deny a person the right of the due processes of the law following the greatest farce of a report to ever be presented to the President of the Legislative Council and the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly. The shadow attorney has abrogated for ever his right to become the first law officer of the State. The speech he made will be quoted in the Parliament again if ever he gets the chance - and I pray that will never occur - to become the Attorney General of New South Wales. His comments were the greatest abrogation of the principles of law I have heard. His actions, supported by every member of the Labor Party and the three Independent members, have led to the Parliament committing an offence beyond any reasonable doubt. The report that was presented to the Parliament has been defended vigorously by the Leader of the Opposition, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the shadow attorney. At no time did they have the decency to quote Mr Temby's statement at page 73 of the report. I shall do that for them. Under the heading "Greiner's Position" the report states:
Its charter is not to investigate crime generally.
If the shadow attorney, the Leader of the Opposition or the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and their three henchmen could get a reference like that from anyone in the State, they would have the right to hold their heads up. Until they do, I suggest that they bow their heads in shame. I would be proud to get a reference like that and would receive it gratefully. The fact is that it was a statement made by Mr Temby in his report. How can that statement be related to the dreadful statement made by Temby that "Greiner is corrupt"? Mr Temby had a right to make a decision; indeed, he had a responsibility to do so. But he had a responsibility to the people of the State, the Parliament and those
he was investigating at least to have the intestinal fortitude to make a determination whether they were guilty or not guilty. There are no ifs or buts about that. When one reads the report one realises that this man, as I said recently, was having two bob each way. In this House I will amend that statement. Here was Pontius Pilate sitting in judgment on a group of people. At least Pontius Pilate washed his hands; Mr Temby has not. If Mr Temby was genuine, he would have referred Nick Greiner and Tim Moore to the Director of Public Prosecutions for examination to determine whether a case could be made out against them and charges laid. If Nick Greiner and Tim Moore were corrupt, why did the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption not refer their actions to the Director of Public Prosecutions?
Mr Griffiths: Because there was no crime.
Mr W. T. J. MURRAY: There is no answer to that question other than that no crime was committed. There was no corruption.
Mr Gaudry: It was not his role to do that.
Mr W. T. J. MURRAY: The member for Newcastle has just entered the Chamber. He was the man who came to me and demanded that I take action against corrupt people in his area, on their behalf. Perhaps that should be referred to the ICAC. If he wants that done, I should be delighted to do it. I find the circumstances of this case horrific. As a result of this decision the futures of people of immense ability have been destroyed. The other factor that needs to be put on the record of the Parliament is that the initial move for this inquiry came from Mr Temby. He was the one who made the first move to inquire into the matter. Discussions then took place between the former Premier and the Leader of the Opposition to determine the terms of reference that would be set by the Parliament. The inquiry was initiated by Temby.
One might well ask: what other action will Mr Temby take in regard to inquiries by the commission? Will he examine the many and varied incidents that have occurred in society about which we have not heard much of late? For example, will he examine the circumstances surrounding an amendment to legislation which was moved by a member of the upper House in the last Parliament and which resulted in a former member of Parliament who at present works in the Parliament getting a $200,000 payout?
When will Mr Temby on his own initiative begin to examine some of these matters? He is great when it suits him, but when the crunch is on he goes away from it. Many other things have occurred in the past in respect of which the commissioner has had an opportunity to take action. I remember well talking about the Oceanic Hotel. I remember well discussing in general the rezoning of the Tooth's brewery site. I remember well various actions regarding perjury by a member of this House. Has Mr Temby entered into any investigations of those matters? I fear he has not. We have spoken about the Metherell affair. Will Mr Temby examine the appointment of Roberta Baker, the former press secretary of the President of the Labor Party of New South Wales? Will he examine also the appointment of Mr Vic Baueris, the former chief adviser to the Leader of the Opposition, to the Independent Commission Against Corruption? When will these matters be examined?
It is about time a little bit of a look was taken at the Independent Commission Against Corruption itself. I wonder, given what has occurred and what will flow from today, what must be going through the minds of the members of the International Olympic Committee who are due in Sydney shortly. I wonder do they really think there
will be stability in this State by the year 2000. Can they or anyone else in future be assured, as they come to look at New South Wales, that as a basis of law there will be a fair go for the people of this State - those who live and work here? I wonder whether the word "partiality", which was so freely thrown about in the ICAC report - and I acknowledge the various definitions of that word - could be used to refer to the fact that the Speaker today allowed the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to film proceedings of this House. I wonder did the Speaker go to tender? I wonder did he invite other stations to do the same thing? Can he be accused of partiality in the operation of his job? That is a very interesting thought.
As Michael Yabsley, the honourable member for Vaucluse, said earlier today, what is the future of an individual in this Parliament? What is the future of an arrangement that is made between members in this Parliament? What future is there for the agreement that was signed by the Independents with the Government? Is that agreement to be looked at as being corrupt? Is that a corruption of the processes of partiality? This whole matter throws into doubt much that may occur in the future. It is a sad day that the gutter press of this State should have run a campaign such that a person could not reasonably expect to have the processes of law put into place so that he could at least have an appeal that was his right. Many honourable members will remember that here was a man convicted by a press out for someone's scalp, that here was a man convicted without the right of appeal. I can only thank the heavens that he was not hanged. I am quite satisfied that the former Premier and the former Minister will be totally vindicated in the near future. Though many things have happened in the 16 years that I have been a member of Parliament, this has to be one of the most dishonest and most despicable exercises I have ever seen or been associated with. This morning the honourable member for Bligh had a letter read to her in which she demanded of the Government a right of appeal for one of her constituents against a finding of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. She was so right. All honourable members should remember that one of us might be involved one of these days.
Dr MACDONALD (Manly) [7.54]: I wish to join in the notation of this report.
Madam DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order!
Dr MACDONALD: Madam Deputy-Speaker, I appreciate your call to order because I believe this debate has proceeded with a certain amount of decorum and for that reason I ask, Madam Deputy-Speaker, that I be allowed to be heard in a degree of silence.
Madam DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! The honourable member for Manly should be heard in silence and given a fair go, as should every member in the Chamber.
Dr MACDONALD: In the debate so far emphasis has been given to the notion that two people have been wronged. Those who have raised that particular point are appealing to certain sympathies, but I believe and argue that the Independent Commission Against Corruption has been wronged, the democratic process has been wronged and the probity of public office has been wronged. Debate should take that direction and should not focus on the question of an act of bastardry and the question of fair and reasonable opportunities which others have sought. The other point I want to make before I refer to the body of my comments is the allegation made in the past few hours - and I am happy to look members opposite in the eye - that the three Independents
have more power than others in this place. Every member of this House has one vote. The difference between Independents and party politicians is that Independents have not betrayed their electorates and have not forfeited their right to vote with their consciences and as a result of merit determination. I do not seek to single out individuals. Tonight we are talking about matters of principle in relation to which party politicians have put their party above their consciences. I challenge any member opposite to dispute that. It is interesting to note that the Government is always happy to accommodate the power of the Independents when they support the Government. In 1988, after a need had arisen in previous years for the establishment of an anti-corruption body, the stage was set by Mr Greiner, the previous Premier, with the establishment of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. I draw the attention of honourable members and those opposite who dispute what I have said to remarks made by Mr Greiner during his second reading speech on the Independent Commission Against Corruption Bill, which are reported in Hansard.
Mr Armstrong: On a point of order. Could the honourable member for Manly, who is now quoting from Hansard, please identify the date and the Hansard reference?
Dr MACDONALD: 26th May.
Madam DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Bligh to order. I call the honourable member for Vaucluse to order.
Mr Yabsley: Shoot through, Clover.
Ms Moore: I ask you, Madam Deputy-Speaker, to control this crude little man.
Madam DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! I will not accept a direction from the honourable member for Bligh or from any other member of the House. If the honourable member for Bligh and the honourable member for Vaucluse wish to have a discussion, they should do so outside the Chamber or rather more quietly. I should like to hear the honourable member for Manly.
Dr MACDONALD: On 26th May, 1988, Mr Greiner said:
As with Metherell, I do not think that it can be concluded that Mr Greiner saw himself or would be seen by a notional jury as conducting himself contrary to known and recognised standards of honesty and integrity.
That was looking back on the years before 1988. Mr Greiner continued:
No Government can maintain its claim to legitimacy while there remains the cloud of suspicion and doubt that has hung over government in New South Wales.
Those were the words of Mr Greiner. He set that stage and I commend him for it. I challenge members opposite to dispute that those were Mr Greiner's words and that they set the climate for the following years. Mr Greiner set the climate and set the rules. What followed was the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act and the establishment of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. That commission has weathered a number of storms but it has the respect of the community and of the Parliament. On the question of the Metherell affair, as it has been called, honourable members should take their minds back to 11th April and not forget the public outrage and that of members of the Opposition and of the Government. That outrage should not be
forgotten in this debate, given what has occurred subsequently. The principles at stake are very much those enshrined in the charter of reform to which the Government is a co-signatory with the three non-aligned Independents. The charter of reform refers to those principles, including open and accountable democratic government. What is on trial here is open and accountable government.
It was quite clear that the principles at stake were breach of public trust, breach of the Public Service Management Act, abuse of power in office and a partial exercise of function. Those are not my words, but the words of the Temby report. When honourable members come to consider these matters and assess the seriousness of the departure from these standards, I suggest the following matters be taken into account. Was the act impulsive or planned? Did the participants seek an advantage for themselves or another? What was that advantage? Did they act selflessly but wrongly or wrongly and selfishly? Did the conduct, viewed objectively, breach fundamental or incidental standards of political conduct? Did the conduct reflect adversely on the institutions of government, such as the Parliament, the public service and the judiciary, such that ordinary persons would think less of those institutions because of it? Has respect for those institutions been undermined by their conduct? Was the conduct covert or overt? If honourable members search their souls they will realise the answers are yes. That is what this debate is about. That is the tenet of Mr Temby's report. A legal determination of this matter in the Supreme Court is not relevant. One needs to answer those questions and look at the principles at stake. Those are not my words but the words of Ian Temby, the man who has come under attack.
Madam DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! I have already directed the honourable member for Bligh and the member for Vaucluse to have their discussion outside the Chamber.
Dr MACDONALD: This was a raw purchase of political power. Those were the words used immediately following 10th April and the words that have come through quite clearly in this ICAC report. It was bargaining a parliamentary seat for a job. It is not a matter which will be determined by a court, albeit the Supreme Court. It was a matter of favouritism - a word used by Mr Temby. His findings of facts are quite clearly stated within this document, particularly relating to the previous Premier and the previous Minister for the Environment. I draw your attention to pages 73 and 74 of the report. These are the words of Mr Temby in this document to which we should be referring, rather than leaning on the question of the Supreme Court referral. Remember, this document was referenced to the Independent Commission Against Corruption by this Parliament and it is appropriate that it comes back to this Parliament for consideration. I quote:
I am determined that my Government will be free of that doubt and suspicion; that from this time forward the people of this State will be confident in the integrity of their Government, and that they will have an institution where they can go to complain of corruption, feeling confident that their grievances will be investigated fearlessly and honestly.
Those are the words of Mr Temby and the words that need to be considered during this debate. The facts as he outlined on page 74 quite clearly were that Mr Greiner:
. . . there is much that can be said against Greiner. He knew that Metherell was being favoured for the job, he went along with that, and Greiner's conduct therefore failed the test of impartiality. He knew or believed that political advantage would accrue to Government from Metherell's resignation, and took steps to maximise that advantage by advancing the preselection process and calling an early by-election. He said he believed that Metherell was fit for appointment, notwithstanding strong reservations about him personally.
* played a major role in the negotiations;
* which lead to Metherell resigning his seat from Parliament in exchange for an SES position;
* which became his as a result of a process which was not impartial;
* involving as it did, to Greiner's knowledge, a desire on Moore's part to help a friend;
* involving as it also did political advantage to the Government, and prospectively to Greiner personally; and
These are the matters this Parliament should be considering, not the question of a reference to the Supreme Court. Those are the words of Mr Temby on pages 73 and 74. The Parliament should also address the question of who should consider these findings. It has been emphasised in debate by previous speakers that it is not proper or appropriate for this place to consider those questions, but that they should be the result of a determination by the Supreme Court. I draw attention to the remarks of Mr Greiner on 28th April, 1992, in the debate on the censure motion and reference of the matter to the ICAC:
* involving as it did a senior public service position which was filled otherwise than on a competitive merit basis, in a way which favoured Metherell over all other applicants.
This House should await the finding of ICAC when we will be able to determine all matters, judge them fairly, judge them in the cruel and dispassionate light of analysis.
These are the words of Mr Greiner:
On the corruption element, which we all agree we do not know about yet . . . the ICAC is properly going to find out and find out quickly . . .
That is a clear statement of his attitude towards the ICAC and towards the ICAC report. I also suggest that in debating the matter of who should consider the findings, one needs to turn to page 91 of the report. The second paragraph on that page, chapter 10, Statutory Matters and Conclusions, states:
I am fully prepared to be judged by this House once ICAC reports but that is the time and not before.
On page 64 of the same report, out of deference to Parliament, Mr Temby stated:
The political reality is that this Report will be debated in the Parliament, and advice will be given to the Governor upon which he will act as a result of that Parliamentary discussion and any resolution that may flow from it.
They are the conclusions of Mr Temby on who should consider these findings. This is a matter, I would argue, for the supremacy of Parliament. The facts themselves are sufficient in this debate. The question has arisen about the Supreme Court reference and determination of the matter in a legal context. The ICAC, I would argue, is an administrative body. This is a political matter for the Parliament to consider.
Mr Greiner and Mr Moore have the right to appeal, to clear their names. I understand they are planning to do that for the sake of their future careers. The response by the Government has been disappointing. It has had an opportunity since 11th April, the day after the resignation, to disassociate itself from that matter. It has failed to do so until the last few hours.
Mr Greiner misled - and this has been stated by the Leader of the Opposition - the public last Friday. He focused immediately on page 73. He talked about the grounds required for a charge under common law bribery, which referred to matters of honesty and integrity. That particular remark was a total red herring. At that point Mr Greiner and Mr Moore realised the report was adverse. It is interesting that Mr Moore and, I think, Mr Greiner both indicated that they thought about resigning. Why did they think about resigning ? Because they looked at the report and they realised it was adverse. But then the legal fraternity floated them a life raft and said, "Look, there might be a way out this, because there may be a legal channel through the Supreme Court". On the Friday the impact of this report was quite clear to them
Since then the Government has further attempted to discredit the ICAC. A press release that was sent to me and issued by the Deputy Premier, Mr Murray, stated that "There can be innocent corrupt conduct". The response and behaviour of the Government to the findings and the facts of the Temby report have been enormously disappointing. The spectre of the Supreme Court is now suspended over this place, particularly over the Independents. It has been used to discredit Mr Temby and the ICAC. Incidentally, who will pay for the challenge in the Supreme Court? The taxpayer. The taxpayer will also pay for all the ICAC hearings. What about the other people who appeal against an ICAC finding? Will taxpayers pay their costs? There should be one rule for everybody. But coalition members do not understand that. [Extension of time agreed to.]
There is no doubt that there is an element of intimidation of this Parliament in the referral of the ICAC report to the Supreme Court. Premier Fahey today claimed that the Supreme Court would have changed the facts and the findings. He said that we should have given the court a few more days to consider the matter. I draw the parallel with remarks he made with regard to an appeal. It was said that the South Sydney planner or planners took a matter to the appeal court; why cannot Mr Greiner and Mr Moore? The difference in this case is that a third party is involved - the Parliament. This case is different from other matters considered by the ICAC. It was also said that the Independents are not being fair and reasonable and that this is not fair to the two people involved. What about the 170 people who applied for Metherell's job and never got to the selection process? What about treating them fairly and reasonably?
Another matter that we have to consider in this debate is what is the appropriate sanction or penalty. In my view the Metherell affair originally involved only four persons. It did not involve the Cabinet. It is quite clear from Mr Temby's findings that the Cabinet was not involved in the early stages. This is stated on the top of page 4 of the report. Matters have changed in the past four days. I believe the Ministers should have resigned on Friday as soon as the report came out. They appeared to believe that they should have resigned, but they did not. In considering an appropriate sanction or penalty I take a number of matters into account. I search my own soul, look at the principles involved and, dare I admit, I also consult my community. After polling my
electorate over the weekend - I am here to represent that electorate - I found that 59 per cent of those surveyed believed that Mr Greiner should resign; 64 per cent believed that
Mr Moore should resign; and 40 per cent believed there should be a change of government - a marked increase since the survey a month ago. On average, 60 per cent believed that Mr Moore and Mr Greiner should go. The mood has changed. The stain has been spreading. The Government has been taking ownership of the corruption.
I see those who would argue that that is not the case but there has been a transgression from the position of a small number of people being involved to the point at which certain Ministers and certain officials within the Liberal Party have not distanced themselves or dissociated themselves from the actions taken and have taken ownership of the actions and continued to criticise the ICAC. That is why the Independents invoked the conditions in the agreement they have with the Government. The Independents are cosignatories to the memorandum of understanding that was signed last October. In that document there is a provision that fair notice will be given and negotiations will take place between the Independents and the Government if matters of no confidence are being considered. Of course, that has been forgotten in this debate. The Independents get no credit for the fact that they went to the Government and clearly stated their position. This matter was moving towards a point at which it was involving the Government as a whole and the Independents had to consider their position in relation to supporting a no confidence motion. That is exactly what they did. That is why a signal was needed that there needed to be a withdrawal of support for those who had been implicated and incriminated in the findings of the Temby report.
Mr Fraser: Another attempt at bribery on your part.
Dr MACDONALD: You may interpret it however you wish. Presumably you will have an opportunity to speak in the debate. There was a signal from the Independents that a no confidence motion may have to be supported. What does the future hold? One hopes that over the longer term there will be lessons from this for people who will hold public office in future. It is to do with the culture of the Parliament and the attitude of those who hold public office. The very things that Mr Greiner talked about in his 1988 ICAC speech are the very things that we are considering here. It is a matter of generating a change of attitude. The second stage of the Temby inquiry is set to consider section 27 of the Public Sector Management Act. We need to give a clear message to the community that some form of scrutiny by the Parliament of all political appointments is required in future.
Notwithstanding the likely remarks of honourable members opposite, I have a great feeling of sadness about what has happened in the past few days. It is generated from the fact that it has been left up to the Independents to have to act as the conscience of this place. The Independents have been free to make a merit determination and a response to the ICAC report. Of course, this should have been done by those in government, by those who would seek to influence government. It is enormously disappointing that not one coalition member appeared to dissociate himself from the actions of the Ministers which were the subject of the report. The previous Premier, who was setting higher expectations and standards, failed to acknowledge that they applied to him. In conclusion, I make clear that I am prepared to be judged for my actions on this matter. I will be judged now and in the future. But let me say this: the stakes are higher than individuals, Ministers or even government. Democracy has been on trial. The principles of open and accountable government have been at risk, and those matters I am proud to defend.
Mr YABSLEY (Vaucluse) [8.19]: Tonight I wish to speak about what must be
described as the blackest day in the history of the New South Wales Parliament. I want to say with respect to my own resignation from the ministry that I am naturally very sad and sorry to be leaving the portfolio of State development and tourism which, as the former Premier said to me just over 12 months ago when he offered me the portfolio, is without doubt one of the most exciting areas of involvement in New South Wales. I pay particular tribute and give thanks to the respective departmental heads: Dr John Saunders and his team of officers; Paul Crombie, General Manager of the New South Wales Tourism Commission; Geoff Wild, Chairman of the New South Wales Tourism Commission; and my outstanding and devoted staff who have done a superb job.
[Interruption from gallery]
Madam DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! I call the members of the gallery to order. They are not allowed to participate in any way in the debate. If they continue to do so they will be removed.
Mr YABSLEY: As is so often the case, when officers come together many good friendships are made. I am sure there will be many lasting friendships as a result of the time we have spent together. Perhaps the best way I can cover some of the issues that I want to raise tonight is to refer to the letter that I sent earlier today to His Excellency the Governor of New South Wales. I wish briefly to canvass the fact that, over recent days - since Sunday when I made the announcement that if Nick Greiner went I would go too - there have been many comments. Many people have said to me: "What are you on about? What are you up to? This is a very strange thing to be doing. Think twice about it". I am sure others were more satisfied with the thought that they were killing two birds with one stone. Be that as it may, I was edified and flattered by the fact that many people sought actively to discourage me from the decision that I announced on Sunday. But they had missed the point. As I enunciated on Sunday, I was talking about matters of principle. For me there was no room to negotiate; there was no room for compromise. As I said in my letter to His Excellency, in view of the decision of the Hon. Nick Greiner to resign as Premier of New South Wales, I would also tender my resignation as Minister for State Development and Miniser for Tourism and as a member of the Executive Council. I did that for three reasons.
I want to refer to what I now consider to be the untenable ground rules that exist in the discharge of ministerial duty in New South Wales. In saying this I am mindful of the fact that this will create some difficulty for my former ministerial colleagues. There is an argument that I am establishing a precedent that will put some sort of pressure on them. Let me simply say this: I have taken a personal decision based on what are for me personal principles. As I said earlier, there is no room to negotiate and there is no room for compromise. I do not seek to put any pressure on anyone else. My expectations are not transportable. I hope that my former ministerial colleagues understand that. I just consider that the sort of scrutiny that is evidenced in the Independent Commission Against Corruption report on the Metherell affair has made ministerial office untenable even for those of us who abide by the highest standards of honesty and integrity. The extraordinary thing is that, regardless of how the Court of Appeal interprets the ICAC report, a series of events has unfolded that has forced Nick Greiner and Tim Moore - both people of honesty and integrity - from the office of Premier and the office of Minister for the Environment respectively. As the honourable member for Manly and others sought to be as selective as they liked and sought to provide a version of the report that suited their own sleazy political ends, I thought I, too, would be a little selective and refer to page 73 of that report where Mr Temby states:
. . . I propose to refrain from suggesting what course it should follow. That is a matter for the members of Parliament collectively. They have a grave responsibility to act in an appropriate manner on the basis of this Report. Nothing I say can or should be seen to dictate to them what the proper outcome would be. Because of the political realities as I see them, I will not be stating pursuant to section 74A(2) that consideration should be given to the taking of dismissal action. The Governor is very unlikely to act except on the basis of advice, following Parliamentary resolution, if any. And to repeat myself, I do not think it appropriate for the Commission to push the Parliament in any direction.
Those are perhaps some of the most telling words in the whole report. I wish to refer now to what I describe as the political offal that occupies the backbench on the Opposition side of the Chamber. We have a new form of political low life in New South Wales. We have a new form of political scum. I am talking about the honourable member for Manly, the honourable member for South Coast and the honourable member for Bligh. They have been prepared to prejudge the former Premier of New South Wales and Tim Moore. They have set themselves up as judge and jury - pious, sanctimonious individuals who would have us believe that they believe in consultation; that they respect the established system of criminal justice; that they respect the court system; and that most of all they want to hear debates in Parliament before they make up their own miserable, tiny minds. All that has gone out the window. They are no longer interested in hearing the opinion of the community; they just want to make up their minds on the basis of their own miserable, political agenda. They will stand condemned. They claim to be the virgins of the place; they claim to be purer than pure. The other day a property developer said this about the honourable member for Bligh: "Clover comes cheap. There is nothing you cannot achieve with Clover without kicking in a thousand bucks to her election campaign". We will hear more about that. The honourable member for Bligh puts herself up as a great paragon of virtue. Before anyone from the other side reminds me -
Dr Macdonald: Repeat that outside.
Mr YABSLEY: I will repeat it inside. Let me tell the honourable member for Manly what the property developer said to me. He said: "Clover comes cheap. There is nothing that a $1,000 donation to her campaign cannot fix". I wish to refer to what Tim Moore said this afternoon in the House. Uncharacteristically, he quoted from the gospel of St John and said, "He who is without sin, let him throw the first stone". Those words will be inscribed on the political tombstones of the honourable member for Manly, the honourable member for South Coast and the honourable member for Bligh. We are dealing with the political dregs. After listening to the honourable member for Manly all I can say is that if his political principles are an indication of the principles with which he runs his medical practice I would hate to be a patient in his surgery.
Dr Macdonald: On a point of order. I regard that remark as offensive. It brings into question my professional integrity as a medical practitioner. In view of the fact that it has no relevance to the substance of the debate I ask that the honourable member for Vaucluse be directed to withdraw the remark.
Madam DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! I ask the honourable member for Vaucluse to withdraw that remark.
Mr YABSLEY: Despite its accuracy, I withdraw.
Dr Macdonald: Madam Deputy-Speaker, I ask you to ask the honourable member for Vaucluse to withdraw without qualification.
Madam DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! I ask the honourable member for Vaucluse to withdraw without qualification.
Mr YABSLEY: I withdraw the remark without qualification, despite its accuracy.
Madam DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! I ask the honourable member for Vaucluse to withdraw the remark unreservedly and to proceed with the debate.
Mr YABSLEY: I withdraw sincerely.
Mr Nagle: Apologise.
Mr YABSLEY: No way; you have got to be joking. These people who call themselves the unaligned Independents are the main protagonists. The great crime fighter - the little one who sits in the back corner - is considered in genuine crime-fighting circles as more of a pest than anything else. There is far more huff and puff than there is substance with just about every utterance made by the honourable member for South Coast. I wonder if, one of these days, Mr Ron Cahill, the coroner, might amplify various comments made by the honourable member for South Coast that put him in line for a charge of perjury. Let us have a closer look at the integrity of the honourable member for South Coast, the self-styled crime fighter who sits at the back of the House and is better described as a perjurer. I said in my letter to His Excellency today that since the election in 1991 the political offal of this place, the Independents, have sought to deliberately damage the Government to the point of making its position untenable. Individually and collectively they have orchestrated political instability, the like of which has not been seen in this State in living memory. It is generally conceded that that political instability has damaged New South Wales. When travelling around the country and visiting other parts of the world in my former portfolio of State development, I found that because of the activities of the political offal called the unaligned Independents it could no longer be claimed that New South Wales had one of the most politically stable environments in the world.
In an extraordinary display of wilful blindness to the present proceedings before the Court of Appeal of New South Wales and without waiting to hear the debate in Parliament, the Independents have opted to prejudge Nick Greiner and Tim Moore. With 1.25 per cent of the formal vote in this State, the political offal, the so-called unaligned Independents, cast their vote as judge and jury and decided that Nick Greiner and Tim Moore should be shot at dawn without trial. That has now happened. I hope they are glad it has happened but, believe me, be it on their conscience. Judgments will be made against them in due course by their electorates, if by no one else. Watch what happens when those judgments are made! With 1.25 per cent of the popular vote in New South Wales, they have presumed to establish themselves as judge and jury. Shame on them! I merely draw the conclusion - and this was the second major point of principle that led to my decision to resign from the ministry - that if government in this State depends on doing business with the likes of the honourable member for Manly, the feral cat from Bligh and the self-styled crime fighter from the South Coast -
Madam DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! I understand that feelings are running high in this debate. However, I ask the member for Vaucluse and others to temper their language and to refer to members by their titles.
Dr Macdonald: On a point of order. Notwithstanding your remarks, I ask that you direct the honourable member for Vaucluse to withdraw the remark about feral cats relating to the honourable member for Bligh. It is rude and should be withdrawn.
Mr Yabsley: On the point of order. If the honourable member for Bligh had the guts to be in the Chamber, she would be capable of looking after her own interests. It is not up to another member to seek the withdrawal of a comment in respect of someone who is not in the Chamber.
Mr J. J. Aquilina: On the point of order. For some time during his contribution the honourable member for Vaucluse has engaged in a substantive attack on the honourable member for Bligh. If he wants to engage in such an attack, he should do it by way of substantive motion. To do it in this way during this debate is not on and merely shows the gutter-type tactics of which he is capable. It shows that he is quite willing to return to where he belongs - the gutter.
Madam DEPUTY-SPEAKER: Order! I uphold the point of order taken by the member for Manly, even though the remark was not directed at him. Parliament has a longstanding rule that members should be referred to by their correct titles. In a debate of this nature it is even more appropriate that that rule be adhered to. Accordingly, I ask the member for Vaucluse to withdraw the remark.
Mr YABSLEY: I will make sure that I refer to "the honourable member for Bligh", and I withdraw the remark. If government in this State depends on the concurrence of some or all of the Independents, from my point of view that is wholly unacceptable and I choose not to be part of that sort of arrangement. I want to deal with the third reason I have elected to resign from the ministry in view of the events of recent times. Simply put, it is the best, most powerful and most potent way I can express my absolute support for and loyalty to Nick Greiner and the best way I can show my support for the integrity and honesty, as it has been established in the ICAC report, of both Nick Greiner and Tim Moore. Obviously it is also an indication of how seriously I view all the developments that have occurred. The definition of corruption now makes ministerial life untenable. If one applied that test, one would quickly discover that there is not one person in the State of New South Wales who is not corrupt or partial. Whether one exhibits it individually or collectively, partiality is part of the human spirit.
Nick Greiner and Tim Moore have been shot at dawn, having been judged by a system, albeit of the Government's own making. The hallmark of the system is now that the innocent become the guilty. As I have said, many parallels and analogies can be drawn. Some that are fairly apt to which the community might relate are that the speeding motorist has become guilty of culpable driving, the shoplifter has become the armed robber, and the politician who has done something politically naive or stupid, call it whatever you will, is judged guilty of corrupt behaviour. I find all of those circumstances unacceptable and have elected to resign from the ministry. I have no doubt that during the coming days, months and years, this whole issue will continue to be explored. Honourable members will realise how the honourable member for Bligh ran around the eastern suburbs saying, "Isn't it great we have got the fixed four-year term because that gets me to 25th March, 1995". What can she do now? She can stick her greasy little paw into the superannuation till. She is all right, she is happy. She has done the deal that has stitched up her superannuation for the rest of her life. I hope she is happy with it and I hope when she gets out of this place she will be able to live well on the superannuation she has been able to suck out of the public trough. I have no doubt that will also remain on the conscience of the honourable member for Bligh, as I am now called upon to refer to her. In my letter to Nick Greiner I simply said:
. . . I do not think that it can be concluded that Greiner saw himself or would be seen by a notional jury as conducting himself contrary to known and recognised standards of honesty and integrity.
The decision I have taken is the easiest political decision I have ever had to make. I have nailed my colours to the mast for two people whose honesty and integrity is beyond doubt. At least I can rest easy with the knowledge that I have not compromised and have not been prepared to flirt with the sorts of forces that those opposite have. They can live with their consciences. [Time expired.]
Mr HATTON (South Coast) [8.39]: I am very happy to speak in this debate. I am not at all fazed by attacks, particularly when they get into gutter language. I have been subjected to them over the years on a number of occasions by members from both sides of Parliament.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Vaucluse to order for the second time.
Mr HATTON: I am comfortable with what I have done and with my reasons for doing it. The new Premier raised the question whether, had the report made no finding of corruption, the situation would have arisen.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Vaucluse to order for the third time. I call the honourable member for Coffs Harbour to order.
Mr HATTON: The answer to that, quite clearly, is, yes. To give honourable members some background, some weeks ago I obtained computer disks of the evidence before the Independent Commission Against Corruption inquiry. That enabled close examination of the evidence by the use of search programs and computer recall. For the past three weeks, Mr Hilton Jones, a volunteer researcher in my office, researched in depth and without bias evidence and documents provided to the Independent honourable member for Manly and the Independent honourable member for Bligh. Also, we examined transcripts of the evidence and the Temby report. An in-depth analysis of each of the statements and evidence of the main players, of the documents and the report, as well as the chronology of events, was made prior to and after the release of the Temby report.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Bega to order.
Mr HATTON: We have combed through the material. Points come out of it that are not contested by either side, and they cannot be altered by any court decision, no matter what appeal is made to the Supreme Court. They demand that the people involved resign because of their partial conduct. They did not act in the best interests of the people of New South Wales. They broke the ministerial guidelines under which the former Premier, without judge and jury and without appeal, sacked Minister Singleton and caused him pain and suffering. But he did not choose to apply those standards to himself and take the honourable course of resigning. The former Minister for the Environment was in the same position. He could have resigned and prevented the events that occurred. A job was created in the Environment Protection Authority, a job which Professor Niland, the chairperson of the board, and Dr Neil Shepherd, the chief executive, said was not necessary at that time.
The former Minister for the Environment attempted to direct the Director-General of the Environment Protection Authority to recommend the appointment of Dr Metherell. The former Minister admitted lying to Dr Shepherd when he said that no person in particular was in mind for appointment to the job. Let me get back to the facts. Such an appointment, had it been carried out, would have been illegal under the
Public Service Management Act. Dr Shepherd pointed that out, so another course had to be found. Many of the conclusions in the Temby report coincided with the conclusions we had reached prior to its being published. The commissioner found that former Premier Greiner had played a major part in the negotiations that led to Dr Metherell resigning his seat in Parliament in exchange for a $110,000 a year job as a result of a process that was not impartial. It involved, to the former Premier's knowledge: a desire on the part of the former Minister for the Environment to help a friend; a political advantage to the Government, and prospectively to former Premier Greiner personally; and a senior public service position being filled other than on a competitive, merit basis in a way that favoured Dr Metherell over all other applicants.
I challenge any honourable member on an impartial examination of the statements of all the players involved, the evidence and the cross-examination, to come to any other conclusion. Those facts are not in dispute. Also not in dispute is the fact that the commissioner classified the conduct of the honourable member for Gordon as a partial - not an impartial - exercise of his official functions. In the sense outlined it involved a breach of public trust. His conduct was such that it could adversely affect the impartial exercise of official functions by the head of the Premier's Department, Mr Humphry. No member of any Parliament in Australia, State or Federal, would say that that is an acceptable standard of behaviour, that that is a code of conduct that qualifies any man or woman to retain the position of Minister - a position of considerable power and trust in any Australian Parliament. The tests in this Parliament are of a much lower standard than in the Federal Parliament. The Federal Leader of the Opposition has pursued the resignation of Senator Richardson. In the Federal Parliament a Minister could step down just for misleading the Parliament. That code has not applied in this House. I am talking about grievous offences, about the code of conduct applying to the Premier that he has applied to other people. That is what the Independents expected.
I have commended the Greiner Government for bringing in high standards, and I commend it now. Those standards were put at risk by two Ministers not resigning and accepting responsibility, removing a stain from the Cabinet and from the Government and saying, "We did not meet those standards, which we have in one instance imposed on another, and we are prepared to stand down for the good of the people of New South Wales and to maintain those standards and, consequently, to safeguard the things we put in place". That is the irony of the whole affair. The former Premier, the former Minister for the Environment and Mr Humphry were directly involved in circumventing the Public Service Management Act by making an appointment to the Premier's own department so that Dr Metherell could be seconded to a position with a salary in excess of $110,000 a year. It was admitted in evidence that, when staffing was taken into account, the figure would be $260,000 a year. Multiplied by the five years of the contract, the figure becomes $1 million of public money that was to be issued partially for friends or for political enemies.
The Government is trying to tell me that as a member of Parliament I should accept that and that it is a matter for the Supreme Court. That is a red herring, and it is nonsense. The Government knows that. The Liberal Party may win a few votes and the Independents may be crucified, but I am strong in my heart about what is being done, and I am not at all unhappy about that, even with the responsibility it entails. The appointment was to the public service, not to a ministerial staff. That was clearly underlined at pages 61 to 64 of the Temby report. The senior executive service guidelines for appointment were circumvented with the active involvement of the head of the Premier's own department, Mr Humphry, and at the Premier's behest. That is the grave danger in the senior executive service. They are on contract; they can be
influenced. In this case, they were influenced. The salient feature in this affair is that a senior public servant, Dr Shepherd, said: "You can jump in the lake. I am not going to make that appointment. It is illegal. It is improper. Here is my resignation if you want it". If Humphry had said that, it would have called the former Premier's bluff.
There is a salutary lesson in that to all public servants to do what is right and not just to do what they are asked to do by their political masters or to be pressured into actions that they feel in their hearts are wrong. It is a wrong exercise of the considerable power the Parliament gives Premiers and Ministers for them to abuse that power, to lean on public servants and to use taxpayers' money to do so. I make no apology for my stand on this issue. I am proud of it. A lot of emotion was involved and I have a real sadness because I have a great deal of respect for the former Premier and the former Minister for the Environment. We eyeballed each other at our meeting. The Independents, the former Premier, the former Minister for the Environment, the Minister for Police and Emergency Services, I and others eyeballed each other and spoke to each other, not at each other. We treat each other with respect.
I came away from that meeting, not in any snivelling sense but after looking those people in the eye and saying what was in my heart and doing what I had to do. I am proud of the honourable member for Manly and the honourable member for Bligh for standing up. The gutter language used by the honourable member for Vaucluse just underlines my pride; it does not diminish it one little bit. Let us get that quite clear. We do not want "Sir Humphreys" and we do not want people leaning on public servants. We want people to stand up. When honourable members attacked the institution of the ICAC and Mr Temby they attacked me, because I have been criticised for all sorts of things. I could not get things fixed in this State. A member could not stand up in this Parliament and get anything off his chest because the Premier of the day, Premier Wran, would say, "Take it to the police commissioner". But you knew damned well that if you took it to the Commissioner of Police it was not going to be investigated properly, or, if it was investigated properly, it would go through the ministerial sieve and they would belt you over the head with it - not with the facts but with the fiction.
So, we got the ICAC, which gave us an institution where issues could be investigated, and standards would apply. That is what happened here. I did not refer it to Temby; the Premier referred it. I did not appoint Temby; the Premier appointed Temby. I did not lay down the guidelines and the rules; the Premier laid down the guidelines and rules. He was judged by those guidelines and rules and he said he was prepared to wear it. Now we have this tawdry idea that, somehow, the Supreme Court is going to undo it. The Government knows from the statement of claim that the Supreme Court cannot undo it. The Supreme Court will not address the senior executive service guidelines; it will not address the ministerial code. If the Supreme Court finding is that the two gentlemen concerned were not corrupt or that "corrupt" was too strong a word, I would not be unhappy with that, but that would not exonerate them. The fact is that the crime they committed was one for which they should have resigned because it was a misuse of public office and no amount of obfuscation in the Supreme Court can or will remove that. So, we can set that aside, once and for all.
This was an appointment to the elite of the public service, the people who exercise real power and the people who do not have to go to an election every four years. All of the guidelines were not followed. As the honourable member for Manly said, where was the justice for all the other public servants who could have applied for that $110,000 a year position? The boys were organising a job for Dr Metherell all the time and lying to the head of the department. Read the evidence, if you think Mr Greiner is
lilywhite. He said, "We ought to have lunch", and words to the effect: "Let's make it look good. Don't rush into this. We have got to get this idea of warmth between us, so the public get used to it". Subterfuge! You know that is right. I respect your emotion and your attachment to your leader, but you have to put that aside and look at the facts. They are the facts and those facts are acknowledged by both sides.
A lot has been said about the power of the Independents - these three people who exercise this power in this Chamber and who have a handful of votes. An accident at the polls put us in that situation. We could not devise it; we did not seek it. You can change places with us any time you like. You can work yourselves into the ground night after night and day after day and try and keep up. But, more importantly, when the time comes to make a tough decision, you have to make it without the warmth of the party; you have got to make the assessment and stand up to the flak that I have received from both sides of Parliament, because when you know that something is corrupt and try to expose it, the party machine will give you hell - and they give you hell. I have received hell from both sides, so I am hardly trembling with fear when the honourable member for Vaucluse makes these terrible threats. He does not know what threats are all about. He does not know what it is all about and he does not give a damn.
The greatest decision for me was not whether these people ought to stand aside but whether I should support a vote of no confidence in the Government. My greatest decision was deciding whether this touched on the entire Government and, if it did not touch on the entire Government, would it not trigger the charter of reform and therefore allow us the freedom of voting for, or moving a vote of no confidence in, the charter of reform. The fact is that it does touch on the entire Government. Is the resignation, therefore, sufficient for us not to support a vote of no confidence in the Government? That was the big question for me. It still is worrying me. From day one, since May twelve months ago, the Independents have dealt squarely and openly with both sides. We have never hidden anything. If somebody told us something in confidence in the Premier's office, it was never leaked to the other side - similarly with the Opposition. They respect us for that. We have not horse traded; we have played the game fairly. I have told the Leader of the Opposition I will not support that vote of no confidence. Former Minister Yabsley was very happy to be a Minister in a stable climate with the support of those so-called lousy Independents, and to drive around in his white car. [Extension of time agreed to.]
Another thing bitterly disappointed me. I was very saddened by the comments made on Alan Jones' radio program this morning by my friend - who still is my friend - Bob Bottom, a man for whom I have a very deep respect. I have spoken to him twice since then. I really cannot understand that attack. He is a man who has probably done more than anyone in Australia to combat organised crime. It is one of those things that happens in emotional times, when people say things and, I hope, really regret what they have said. One of the things Bob Bottom said was that he acted as a go-between, and he attempted to equate the offer to me of speakership with the Metherell affair. There was never any secret about the speakership. It became public knowledge in the time that it takes to click one's fingers. The offer was there. An extra $35,000 a year in salary, plus all the other things that go with it; one could argue that it would be up to an extra $1,000 a week. What did I seek for that? The fact is I wanted a crime commission. I wanted a royal commission. He said that was dropped off the charter of reform. It was. We decided to limit the charter of reform to issues of accountability and mechanisms of government, because the minute I had said I wanted something specific, the honourable member for Manly or the honourable member for Bligh would have said, "What about the southeast forests?" or something else. We could see that it was leading to the sorts
of demands which would not be proper and which would not be workable. We have always limited our negotiations to what would give members of Parliament more rights on the floor of the House to represent their constituents, give them freedom, and free up the administration in terms of freedom of information and a whole range of other things.
I just want to set the record straight on that. That was a matter that was of great disappointment to me. The honourable member for Burrinjuck has sought to interject but I pay him this respect, as I do the honourable member for Monaro: they have shown something which I have not seen in this Chamber for many years. When they felt strongly about something, they voted against their party or decided not to vote. I have great respect for them for that. I should like to have thought - as the honourable member for Manly said - that somebody in the Cabinet, somebody in the coalition, would have stood up and said in respect of the Metherell appointment, "I am sorry but I am stepping out of the trenches and I am saying that the standard of behaviour of the Premier and of the Minister, or of both, is not acceptable to me and is not acceptable to the majority of my constituents". You may not have wanted to dissociate yourselves from it. You may not have wanted to go that far but you could have said, "I condemn it. I do not believe in it".
One cannot have the warmth of a political party, the camaraderie, the loyalty and all the rest of it without accepting some sort of joint responsibility. A member of the House of Commons tells the apocryphal story of the new member who said, "Really, we got stuck into the enemy today, didn't we?" The older member said, "My boy, the first thing you must understand is: that is the Opposition, there is the enemy", and he pointed behind him. In the House of Commons members stand up behind their own Ministers and give them hell if they feel they need to do so for their constituency. They have a degree of freedom to vote, and that is what is wrong in Australian politics. There is nothing wrong with having political parties but their members ought to be given more freedom. There ought to be occasions when members can say, "I am sorry, I will not wear that code of behaviour", and still be able to survive in the party. The Independents do that and they cop the flack for doing it. I remind honourable members that when they had the opportunity they did not say to their Ministers, "It is not good enough" - with regard to actions that almost brought down their Government.
The former Minister for State Development, the present Minister for Justice, John Valder, and others attacked the institution of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. The Independent Commission Against Corruption is not perfect. It has some serious flaws and we are wrestling with that. As a member of the Independent Commission Against Corruption committee I have been critical of the fact that the Independent Commission Against Corruption has not tackled the heavy corruption that I thought it would. But we are learning. We all must feel proud of the fact that the creation of such an independent commission against corruption is a world first. So far as I know there is nothing like it anywhere on this planet. We have tried to give it strong investigative powers without having too much secrecy. We have tried to have accountability and to give people a fair go so that they can be represented yet still get to the core of corruption. Had we not done that, where would the Independent Commission Against Corruption be now? It would have been cast aside. Honourable members should forget about whether they think the Independent Commission Against Corruption is doing its job in terms of investigations. What about the example it is setting for young people with its educative corruption prevention programs. It reaches into departments and looks at their procedures and risk management and says, "If you do this differently there is less risk of corruption". That side of the work of the Independent Commission Against Corruption is never emphasised, and that is why I stand firmly behind the Independent Commission Against Corruption.
Members on the Government benches made their greatest mistake politically when their organisation began to attack the Independent Commission Against Corruption - something that I have been working towards for more than 14 years in this place. Nothing was surer to bring me out of my corner, because I was there trying to do something when there was no Independent Commission Against Corruption or Ombudsman; when the Ombudsman was specifically prevented by Wran from inquiring into the police force; when there was no Director of Public Prosecutions; and the Attorney General filed no bills to prosecutions. I have been there and seen it all. I have seen the political corruption. I was amazed during a recent censure debate when honourable members criticised John Hatton because he did not do anything about it. Now, merely because it touched them, they want to destroy the organisation that facilitates their ability, as members of Parliament and as ordinary citizens, to do something about it. Well, that is just too bad, because as the Premier said it can touch any public official.
In the laughable statement of claim to the Supreme Court it is claimed that the Premier is not a public official. That is nonsense. If Government members agree with the statement of claim to the Supreme Court that the Independent Commission Against Corruption did not have certain jurisdiction, they are guilty of a massive deceit of the people of New South Wales, because the Government referred the matter to the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Why was that done if at the same time it was believed that the Independent Commission Against Corruption could not handle it? Honourable members know in their hearts that the Independent Commission Against Corruption can handle it. However, it cannot make findings. When Premier Greiner said that the Independent Commission Against Corruption did not make a finding on this or on that, he should have also said that section 74B of the Act provides that on a parliamentary reference the Independent Commission Against Corruption cannot do that - the matter must come back to the Parliament for debate and decision. I endorse the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition when he carefully went through the processes that Mr Temby followed to ensure fairness for everyone concerned. He could have given the balance of probabilities to Dr Metherell's diaries with regard to the telephone call. Had he done so, the result would have been even more devastating for the Premier than it was. But Mr Temby did not. I ask honourable members to ponder what would have happened to Dr Metherell if he had not had diaries. Two or three people said that specific telephone calls and other incidents did not take place. What would have happened to him?
As someone interjected, he would have been the perjurer, the liar. One has to have been in a witness box to know when one takes on the forces just how strong they are and how much they will try to destroy one. But Dr Metherell had everything written down. Suddenly they found that the telephone call did take place. That is the unwritten story of the Independent Commission Against Corruption report. It was the Premier's creation, and he deserves full credit for it just as he deserves full credit for the splendid economic job he has done in many areas of New South Wales. The Independents have done their best to support the Government in terms of stability. Had the Government continued to ignore the Independent Commission Against Corruption it would have destroyed itself because of instability. That is the irony.
The Independents have not always agreed with members on the Government benches because we do not support them on ideological grounds. The support is not an ideological base, it is a stable government base. There will be plenty of disagreements
down the track, but we have respect for each other. I acknowledge the tragedy for Mr Greiner and I know that Government members, especially those who are friendly with him and work with him, must feel it more deeply than I do. With regard to Tim Moore I say that he is a very good parliamentary strategist. He is a workaholic and an honourable man with whom to deal. No other member could have worked with the Independents in the same skillful, knowledgable and efficacious way. I took no pleasure in forcing him to resign. I admired his loyalty to his friends, especially when he said, "Dr Metherell is still my friend". That is a special quality and the man deserves the love of us all for saying that. So spit on me if you wish. I have made the decision and I stand by it. I am happy with that decision. If Government members remove the Independent Commission Against Corruption, they will destroy themselves. If they do not obey their own code of conduct, they will destroy themselves and the reputation that this Government has built up.
Mr WINDSOR (Tamworth) [9.9]: I would like to speak briefly on this matter. As most honourable members have said in the course of this debate, this is a day of sadness and of strains in relationships. Obviously it is a sad day for the former Premier, Mr Greiner, a man for whom I had immense respect. For some years I thought that he was one of the few leaders in this country who tried to do something about the long-term prosperity of the State. It is a day of sadness for the honourable member for Gordon, whom I also respect. Although I have disagreed with him on many occasions about environmental matters, in a weird way I have become quite close to him and I will miss him in this place. I believe, however, that both men have wronged the Parliament. I believe also that it is a sad day for the Liberal Party and for the National Party. The comments from within their ranks about Commissioner Temby were wrong and should not have been made. In no small way those comments contributed to the downfall of the former Premier. This is also a sad day for what I am beginning to call the Independent party because I believe that their actions today represent a sad misuse of power. I am very glad, particularly on this day, not to be a member of any party because I believe that everyone in this place has contributed in some way to the events that have taken place. What Mr Greiner and Mr Moore did was wrong in a moral sense, if not in a legal sense. But I believe also that what the honourable member for Manly, the honourable member for Bligh and the honourable member for South Coast did today was morally wrong. There is such a thing in this country as fairness, and I believed it existed in this State. Mr Greiner and Mr Moore deserved a week of fairness from the Independent party.
To put my position straight for the record, I was one of the Independents who participated in the censure debate against Mr Greiner and Mr Moore when the four Independents censured both Ministers in relation to the Metherell affair. I still believe what Mr Greiner and Mr Moore did was wrong; I always will believe what they did was wrong. Irrespective of the legality of it, it was morally wrong, and in my view in the long term they would have had to stand down or resign. Yesterday morning I rang the Premier to say I believed that in fairness he should stand aside while the Supreme Court hearing took place. At that time he said he thought that was probably the course he would take. However, he also said he did not know whether that would be enough to satisfy the honourable members representing the electorates of Bligh, Manly and South Coast. I suggested to him that, knowing those people - as I thought I did - they would see the fairness in that proposal and that there would be no point moving a motion of no confidence in him as Premier if he was no longer occupying that position while the Supreme Court heard his application. My knowledge of those Independent members was seriously deficient. I was talking about fairness. The Independent Commission Against Corruption report of Commissioner Temby stated that Parliament should decide. I
believed that before the Parliament decided, the legalities of the matter should have been decided by the Supreme Court. Essentially we were putting the cart before the horse, though it was very important that that process take place.
I believed that eventually Mr Greiner and Mr Moore would have had to resign. However, I believed also, and I still believe this strongly, that they had the right of appeal. That right is available in every other tribunal or court in this land. This country is known for giving people a fair go, but I do not believe these people were given a fair go. They were attempting to test whether Commissioner Temby was operating within the bounds of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act. I do not know whether the commissioner was so acting - I am not legally trained. Perhaps it is a bad thing that there are too many legally trained people in this place. I sense some support for that comment. Despite my lack of legal training, I believe that Mr Greiner and Mr Moore had the right to have the legality of the decision tested by another court. Every other legal process in this country allows that. They should have had that opportunity. My position is that the Metherell affair was a breach of community standards. I believe the community has moved towards wanting greater standards from its politicians. Had Mr Greiner and Mr Moore been allowed to test the legality of the decision, it would have alleviated much of the sadness that permeates this House today. It would have given them a different way of leaving this place. I believe we should have given them that opportunity.
This is a day of great sadness to me personally. When I stood for election as an Independent member for the seat of Tamworth one of the people for whom I had great respect and whom I used to a certain extent to promote my candidacy as an Independent was the honourable member for South Coast. I believed that he was a man with exemplary standards of conduct, a man who was out to stop corruption and who stood for justice. But I believe the standards he set himself have severely deteriorated within himself today. I believe what he has done, in league with the honourable member for Manly and the honourable member for Bligh, may not have affected the long-term outlook for the former Premier but may have severely damaged the system of justice in this State. I believed Mr Hatton to be a corruption fighter and a fighter for fairness. But now, and I do not say this lightly because it hurts me to say it, I believe that Mr Hatton is now Hatton the hypocrite. In fact, I believe he has lost all credibility in relation to justice and corruption and I will find it very difficult to listen to his advice in relation to justice and corruption in future. My trust in the honourable member for South Coast has gone. That is not said lightly because I have relied on his advice over the past 12 months and have respected his position within this Parliament as an Independent member for many years. He has done himself a great disservice today. It is regrettable that the honourable member for Bligh and the honourable member for Manly, by trying to rush events and use the media, have been driven by the media and have failed to give two men a fair chance by failing to give them seven days' grace. Had they been allowed that time, I suggest the outcome would not have been altered because I would have supported the Independents, so that four Independent members would have voted together. However, their actions have severely affected my respect for them.
Two judgments had to be passed in relation to the Metherell affair. One was the legal judgment of the ICAC which Mr Greiner and Mr Moore now seek to test in the Supreme Court. The second and more important judgment in my view was the moral and standards judgment. I believe both men were guilty, but they have a right of appeal. Over the past few months community demands have been higher. I take this opportunity to wish the new Premier, Mr John Fahey, well in his attempts to keep up with those community demands. I urge all honourable members of this House to be responsible in
their own particular policies, the way they behave and their use and abuse of the media. I have had immense respect for Mr Greiner. If he had not been the Premier of New South Wales I would never have been interested in participating in State politics. He set the example by deciding that something had to be done for the longer term good of this State. Some honourable members within this House may be of the opinion that I should not have become interested in politics and therefore may have wished I did not have that respect for Mr Greiner. I believe that his demise essentially is his own fault. It was an act of political stupidity, but I repeat that he has a right of appeal. Those people who today have taken away that right of appeal should be ashamed of themselves.
I wish to raise some concerns in relation to the ICAC, and I am not at all critical of Commissioner Temby - he operated under conditions of extreme difficulty. Though I am not a legal person and therefore am unable to criticise the legalities of the decision, I think he carried out his duty in the best fashion possible, given the circumstances. However, I am concerned about the implications that this decision may have on political life and what in fact a member of Parliament can and cannot do before he or she becomes corrupt. I wonder whether some of my conduct has been correct, given the rather special position that I hold in this Parliament in that I am a conservative Independent with a conservative Government in office and some of the concessions I have been able to draw from the Government because of that position. Was I corrupt when I met with the Premier and others in relation to the health regions of New South Wales and because of my position in this Parliament was able to have a decision changed which had implications for all the State? Honourable members on both sides of this House were pleased that occurred. If one accepts the Temby decision, was that corrupt conduct? If it were, it would make the role of politicians purely administrative. That should be of great concern to us all and should be considered by Parliament.
The other complication with the ICAC is the question of cost. The person I feel most sorry for in this Metherell affair is the honourable member for Wakehurst. He has had an enormous cost to bear even though he has been exonerated. His only guilt was that he befriended Dr Metherell and through his own political naivety became embroiled in the whole sordid affair. He was only guilty of trying to help a friend. I am not sure what this has cost him but it has cost him an enormous amount of money which he may or may not be able to afford. However, I am sure many in the community would not be able to afford it. In future the ICAC or this Parliament must consider the taxpayer refunding costs of those found to be not guilty of any charges.
I mentioned earlier my respect for the Premier. However, I feel also a degree of sadness for Tim Moore. He and I had our problems with the Environment Protection Authority and other environmental areas. Tim Moore's great friendship with Dr Metherell is what in the end has brought both him and the Premier down. I believe Dr Metherell has a lot to answer for in relation to the disrepute brought upon the Parliament by this affair. I am personally pleased to see Mr Moore out of the environment portfolio but I am definitely not pleased to see him out of this Parliament. I believe that he and the former Premier deserve the right of appeal. This has been a sad day for everyone; it has been a sad day for Mr Greiner; it has been a sad day for Mr Moore; it has been a sad day for the so-called non-aligned Independents, who seem to be aligned with each other; it has been a sad day for justice; and I believe it has been a very sad day for this Parliament.
Mr J. J. AQUILINA (Riverstone) [9.27]: Right from the very moment that Commissioner Temby brought down his report at 2 p.m. on Friday, 19th June, it was obvious that either the Independent Commission Against Corruption or Premier Greiner
and Minister Moore had to go, one or the other. The two could not have survived, given the decision in Commissioner Temby's report. That would have been obvious to Independent members, members of the Opposition, members of the Government and members of Cabinet reading that report. The conclusion that either the commission had to be brought unravelled or Premier Greiner and Minister Moore had to go was absolutely undeniable. All of us listened sceptically to the Premier that afternoon, before an incredulous media, attempting to make soft of the decisions contained in the report - how he stated time and again in answer to question after question that Commissioner Temby had found him to be a man of honesty and integrity. True, those words are contained in the report but the Premier took them out of context. No doubt the Cabinet, which had been briefed in relation to that report prior to seeing the report, had been briefed along those lines. It later also appreciated that the Premier's statements in relation to the words honesty and integrity had been taken out of context because the report states that within the terms of the provisions of the ICAC Act both Premier Greiner and Minister Moore were corrupt. There were no ifs and buts about that. It was as blatant and as blunt as it possibly could be. Former Premier Greiner and former Minister Moore were corrupt.
As over the next day or two the severity and full intent of those words sank in with the former Premier and general public, only one course of action was left. That was, of course, to discredit the commissioner and the report. It was on that basis that an appeal was made to the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Still members of the Government, including the former Premier, former Minister Moore and the many members who spoke here this afternoon and this evening, cannot understand the outrage of the Independents, the Opposition and the general public at the appeal to the Supreme Court. That appeal is about legal technicalities, but the report and the finding of corrupt conduct on the part of the former Premier and former Minister Moore are not about legalities; they are about morality.
Even the honourable member for Tamworth, whom I respect as an individual and as a member of this Chamber, made the statement here tonight that the action of former Premier Greiner and former Minister Moore in relation to the Metherell affair was wrong irrespective of the legality. They were his very words. Indeed, wrong it was then and wrong it remains now. The legal business of going to the court and trying to bring undone the report as it stands has little bearing upon the full impact of what happened in the Metherell affair - what happened in relation to the swap of a seat in Parliament for a job and what happened in relation to inducements or otherwise concerning votes in this Parliament. The issue is one of morality, inducement and whether Terry Metherell was persuaded to vacate his seat in Parliament in return for a lucrative job which would have cost the taxpayers of the State in the vicinity of half a million dollars over his appointed term. Those are the points of principle we are dealing with here. That is the real point and substance of the report.
Therefore I agree with the Independents. I agree with the honourable member for South Coast, the honourable member for Manly and the honourable member for Bligh. What the Supreme Court finds on the technical terminology of the report is irrelevant because it is not so much the legal technicalities that count but the intent of what is reported - what former Premier Greiner and former Minister Moore attempted to attain through their advances to Terry Metherell. Whichever way we try to disguise, legally or otherwise, the impact of the report, the facts speak out. Everyone in the Chamber and every member of the public knows that they are the facts. That is why the community at large, and not only this Chamber, stands in judgment of former Premier Greiner and former Minister Moore.
It is not a question of prejudging today. We are not prejudging what may happen next Tuesday in the Supreme Court. We are here exercising our right as a parliament in the way that Commissioner Temby said this Parliament should exercise its right: passing judgment on the facts as he saw them, the facts that the report has shown only too clearly. That is our function; that is our role. Indeed, I pay great compliment to the three non-aligned Independents, knowing the personal trauma which each and every one of them has had to go through in upholding as a point of principle his or her beliefs and ideals in relation to this matter. They know that I have never approached them, vilified them, praised them or damned them as individuals or as a group. I happen to have a great respect for this institution as a parliament and for the rights of individual members of this Parliament. I do so without fear or favour, whether I do that here in this Chamber or in my party room, because the Parliament is what we are all about. That is the trust which the public has put in us. It has put us here to speak without fear or favour, knowing that every word we speak is recorded as a testimony of our contribution for all time. I know that what people want to see in members of Parliament is consistency and dedication in how they see their role and how they apply that role. I do not think anyone can take away anything from the honourable member for South Coast for his consistency over so many years in this Chamber. As he has stated, he has been vilified by both parties. He has been an Independent upholding his rights as a member of the Parliament under Labor governments and Liberal-National governments. He has spoken forthrightly, without fear or favour. Ironically, they are the very words which the honourable member for Vaucluse used here tonight.
There were some gems in his tirade. One was that members of Parliament should come here and act without fear or favour and that as a member of Parliament one has to exercise one's duty without any room for compromise. One has to act on matters of principle. He said that that is why today he resigned as Minister. Unfortunately, he then clouded what he had to say by making derogatory remarks, referring to the non-aligned Independents as offal and the honourable member for Bligh as a feral cat, and making other nonsensical statements. Quite frankly, if he feels so strongly about matters of principle, why can he not see and honour the matters of principle which the non-aligned Independents have acted on today? Why can he not see and honour the fact that it has been for them - indeed for all of us including former Premier Greiner and former Minister Moore - a great personal ordeal to have to go through. But the mistake was made when a Premier and a Minister thought they would be able to capture an additional seat for the Government in the Chamber by being too smart by half. That is the reality. If one goes through the testimony and the detail of what took place before the Independent Commission Against Corruption, one can see only too clearly that that is precisely what happened and that is precisely the conclusion that Commissioner Temby, and indeed the community at large, came to.
There was no recourse. Either Commissioner Temby and the ICAC were discredited or Nick Greiner and Tim Moore had to go. That is why all members of the Government sought the course of action of discrediting the Independent Commission Against Corruption, particularly discrediting Mr Temby. One should go through what has happened over the past few days to see how many former Liberal Party hacks have been brought out of retirement to attack the commissioner and the commission. I note that the former Liberal Party Federal President, John Valder, attacked Commissioner Temby on "A.M." on Monday, 22nd June. Ironically, in doing so, he used exactly the same biblical analogy that Tim Moore used this afternoon and which was again referred to later tonight by none other than the honourable member for Vaucluse. On that occasion John Valder said, "Ian Temby has thrown a very big stone". He emphasised the point by adding:
The fact that you have been forced from office must be regarded as the low point of the Westminster system. Your honesty and integrity are beyond question. Your reputation is absolutely unsullied.
What more direct attack could there be than that, not only on Ian Temby as a person but on the position that he holds? It was asked of him by the journalist, "Are you suggesting that would prejudice him?" Mr Valder said:
Those who throw stones have got to make sure they don't come from glass houses. I think . . . Ian Temby's going to find himself on trial.
Perceived to be biased by whom? Today and on several other occasions it has been said that Ian Temby was not appointed by the Labor Party or the Independents. He was appointed by the Government. In fact, the ICAC was set up by the Government. It is no secret that many members of the Labor Party had reservations about the establishment of the ICAC, but the Labor Party and many of its members as individuals saw great benefit in the ICAC. New South Wales needed something like that, as has been well and eloquently attested to by several honourable members, including the non-aligned Independents. What more direct attack could one have on the person himself and on the position than that made by John Valder on that occasion? The journalist then asked, "Are you suggesting that he has done the wrong thing, Ian Temby?" Valder replied:
Well in life we've got to not only be impartial, we've got to be seen to be impartial . . . Ian Temby . . . should never have taken on hearing this inquiry because he is perceived to be biased.
All of a sudden Ian Temby is no longer the commissioner, no longer part of a total commission; he is an individual, one person. Bronwyn Bishop and a number of others attacked Ian Temby as a person to intimidate the person put into that position by Nick Greiner and his Government, a person everyone had agreed previously would act without fear or favour, as indeed a commissioner should act in that role. I emphasise that we must ensure that this Parliament is not reduced to a Parliament of legal experts. The majority of members who are elected are not lawyers or even trained in the law. They come here because they are elected by the people to represent their interests. Individually and cumulatively we do that in the best way we can, making sure that we do not foul up the legal system but at the same time ensuring that beyond the law a morality pervades this place. The trust the people put in us is that common sense will prevail over and above the technicalities of the law, that there will be proper respect for authority and the institutions we represent and an acceptance of the fact that we are here to pursue the common good. That is what the commission is all about also. It is what I believe the commissioner's judgment was all about when he reached his final decision.
I ask the honourable member for Tamworth not to prejudge his colleagues on the crossbenches of this House, not to make hasty assessments about their motivations or indeed the way they have acted. That is not what this Parliament is about; it is not why the Independent members have made their decisions, along with members of the Opposition who have vehemently pursued this matter and are debating this motion today and next week will debate a motion of no confidence in the Government. Though necessarily attention has been focused on the former Premier and former Minister Moore, they were not alone in the decisions. They were not alone at the time they approached Terry Metherell; nor were they alone after the original approaches were made and subsequent actions took place between March and April. On at least four occasions, as I understand it - and statements made by the former Premier made it plain - Cabinet members endorsed that decision. They were all party to it. It was not a decision made by one or two individuals. It was a decision by all members of the Cabinet, and one can extend that to all members of the Government.
Earlier today the honourable member for South Coast made the point that if, within a party setup, a Cabinet setup or a Government setup, some wrong decision is being forced upon the members, it is up to the individuals to stand up and say that the decision is wrong. At no time did any individual member of the Cabinet or of the Government say that the decision was wrong. These are grave issues. It is a pity that individuals have had to suffer because of the decisions made at the time. They continue to suffer. Nevertheless honourable members should be clear that it is the prerogative of the Parliament to make up its mind about these matters. It is not for any individual member to prejudge other members for the way in which they have acted or to vilify them in the way that some members of the Government have vilified the Independent members.
Mr ARMSTRONG (Lachlan - Minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs) [9.47]: It gives me no pleasure whatever to have the opportunity tonight to speak in this debate. Suffice it to say that this is one of the few debates in the 11 years that I have been a member of this House in which there are absolutely no winners. Opposition members have been made to be losers, as they have demonstrated today. The three so-called non-aligned Independents - the honourable member for Bligh, the honourable member for Manly and the honourable member for South Coast - obviously are losers and not winners. The honourable member for Tamworth has spoken with deep regret. Obviously members of the Government are taking no joy whatever in this debate. Most importantly the people of New South Wales, the mums, dads, kids and business people, are the poorer for this debate. Much of the debate has centred on the three so-called non-aligned Independents. The error made is that the sleazy role played by the Opposition has been neglected.
Opposition members have sat back and basked in the vitriol which on occasions has been heaped upon the non-aligned Independents and they have said nothing. They have not defended their own position, that of the non-aligned Independents or that of the ICAC. They have taken their usual role in this House, and that is to wait for somebody else to get into difficulties. Today they have not offered one positive thought, suggested one positive action or one constructive process or demonstrated one piece of reasonable imagination. The Leader of the Opposition will be on record as having been a leader at a time of enormous political and historic turmoil such as no member of this place in his lifetime has ever seen in the State of New South Wales. Yet the Leader of the Opposition has demonstrated his total ineptitude to take advantage of that turmoil, to understand what has occurred. He is incapable of reading public feeling or providing one shred of evidence that he has any capacity to provide leadership of the Opposition, let alone any imagined capacity that one day he might be a Premier. This whole exercise has demonstrated that the Leader of the Opposition now has no capacity to offer himself as an alternative Premier of this State. Why establish the Independent Commission Against Corruption in the first place? That question has not been addressed by any member in this debate today. The Independent Commission Against Corruption was set up because of a demand from the people and community of New South Wales after a 12 year history of Labor in this State. In that time corruption had been allowed to become endemic: such figures as former Labor Minister Rex Jackson had been sentenced to gaol and these issues had not been addressed.
It might be regarded as laughable. Rex Jackson was gaoled but it is a disgrace that Labor allowed such corruption and did nothing about it. The present Government, under former Premier Nick Greiner, established the Independent Commission Against
Corruption, which the previous Labor Government was never game to do. For years the honourable member for South Coast bullied, pulled, pushed and talked about that but Labor would not bite the bullet. The conservative National Party and Liberal Party, however, had the honesty and integrity to try to make New South Wales a better place. I am delighted that many honourable members who have spoken in this debate have acknowledged that New South Wales has become a better place with the introduction of the Independent Commission Against Corruption and in particular through the good management of former Premier Nick Greiner and the Government. The fact of life is that if Labor had been allowed to continue in government in 1988 by the good citizens of New South Wales undoubtedly there would have been more Rex Jacksons and more Balmain Welding Company scandals. But the change of government in 1988 arrested the deterioration of New South Wales in those respects.
How could the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition have spoken, in all sincerity and honesty, about government probity and propriety if they were aware of what happened under the previous Labor administration in this State? No Labor member worth his or her salt - not even the honourable member for Campbelltown - could sincerely ask honourable members to believe that the Labor Party had any sincerity about corruption in this State. Members opposite are like teenage boys with their first pornographic magazine: they can see it and feel it but cannot get at it. The Labor Party is completely derelict in its whole approach towards corruption in this State. Former Minister Moore and former Premier Greiner have taken full responsibility for the events of recent weeks. This Government's record of honesty and competence is without parallel in the history of this State. There is wide public recognition that the Government is the most honest and open in living memory. The outcome of the Supreme Court hearing remains significant.
Natural justice must be paramount. Mr Justice Stewart, in his final report on the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Activities of the Nugan Hand Group, made a key recommendation to amend both the Commonwealth and New South Wales Acts to provide that, in the case of royal commissions inquiring into allegations of crimes triable in the courts, the rules of natural justice apply to the proceedings of those royal commissions. That recommendation recognised that natural justice is paramount. Natural justice, in the case of the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai, could have been served in just six days. But natural justice was not extended and was denied by the Opposition, though the Independents have been blamed for it. The Opposition sat back, made the bullets and let the non-aligned Independents fire them, and is now basking in some sort of vainglory. I quote from the Independent Commission Against Corruption report on North Coast land dealings in July 1990, which says in part:
Well, I think his language in his report surprised me . . . at the most charitable you'd say it was a strange report . . . it's very dangerous when individuals start damning people in that sort of way . . .
That statement again reinforces the need for natural justice and the need for a person named in a report by the Independent Commission Against Corruption to have proper recourse to the courts of law in any case of doubt about a finding by the Independent Commission Against Corruption. The editorial in today's Daily Telegraph Mirror stated:
. . . in arriving at findings of fact, including findings as to people's conduct, I am not bound by rules of evidence that apply in Courts of Law.
Today's Daily Telegraph Mirror, a paper with enormous circulation, called for nothing more than a fair go and said that the fair thing would be for the Independents and the Parliament to wait for the court's verdict. Is six or seven days too long to ask for the
sake of fairness? Is six or seven days too long in a lifetime? Is six or seven days too long in a four-year term of Parliament? Is six or seven days too long in the ongoing management of New South Wales? The Sydney Morning Herald commented in its editorial today:
Mr Greiner has challenged the ICAC findings in the Supreme Court and the fair thing to do is for the Independents and the Parliament to wait for the court's verdict.
That editorial also stated:
The Independents should wait for a week. What is to be lost if the no confidence motion against the Premier is held back until next Tuesday? Will the cause of good government be harmed by waiting?
The editorial in last Saturday's Sydney Morning Herald said:
In going to the Supreme Court Mr Greiner is not challenging the ICAC as an institution, he is challenging the legal correctness of its findings on his conduct during the Metherell affair. Should he not be allowed a fair go? Should he not be allowed a fair and reasonable time?
Yet for the sake of a fair go, for the sake of another six or seven days, that program which was so well enunciated in the Sydney Morning Herald editorial last Saturday - the newspaper with the highest circulation in this State - has been ignored for political expediency. The tragedy is that the Opposition is so inept and immature that it does not understand the basics of good management, for otherwise it would not have allowed this to occur. The Opposition has no interest in management or in the future of New South Wales. Thus the Opposition could see a short-term five minute political advantage in the terms of the overall concept. The Opposition decided, however, to ignore those public pleas and pronouncements. It is just not good enough. In June 1988 David Solomon, the legal affairs writer in the Australian, wrote:
But whether or not he goes, the program of public sector reforms Mr Greiner put in place must continue. Australia's balance of payments difficulties mean that the Federal Government will remain under pressure to cut public spending in order to reduce the public sector deficit. Failure to push ahead with reform of the New South Wales public sector will ultimately lead to higher taxes and charges and a loss of investment and employment.
It was never intended that the Independent Commission Against Corruption would interfere with a person's normal rights under law. The honourable member for Ku-ring-gai has sought no more and no less than a fair go to exercise those rights. Earlier public opinion of the outcome of the report was coloured by statements of the Leader of the Opposition. He claimed on pubic television that nowhere in the report was language anything like the language used by former Premier Greiner. Page 73 of the report states:
The evidence of Royal Commissions with lesser powers (than ICAC) suggests that once such an inquiry turns its spotlight on an individual, it matters little whether he or she is innocent or guilty.
Yet, the Leader of the Opposition sought to shandy that, sought to gain some political advantage from it. I am sure that the non-aligned Independents see through that now and will see through it in the future. I know they will remember in the future. I call upon the Leader of the Opposition, if he has one shred of genuineness about him, one shred of decency, one shred of wanting to see this State a better place, to acknowledge those words on page 73 of the report. I call upon him to accept that a notional jury would be fully representative of public opinion. That should not be much to ask in the interests of a fair go. It should be very little to ask in the interests of good government and the future of this State.
A common error in many people's opinions, including mine, stemmed from reporting on Friday night by several members of the media who claimed that "there were grounds for dismissal". The report clearly uses the word "could", not "were". There is a major difference. Yet, on Friday evening, when the dye was cast for the subsequent debate in the media, the political process and the public, the word "were" was used instead of the correct word "could". It is an inescapable fact that public opinion was galvanised by early reports about the ICAC statement. It is most regrettable that some media reports were not accurate. Even tonight, in reporting today's events, errors and omissions were notable. That reflects upon not only the media but the quality of communications in this State. The electors of Davidson were disenfranchised. When given the opportunity, they immediately corrected this unfair and unjust situation. The ICAC report cleared the head of the Premier's Department, Mr Dick Humphry, of wrongdoing. I quote again from page 73:
. . . I do not think that it can be concluded that Greiner saw himself or would be seen by a notional jury as conducting himself contrary to known and recognised standards of honesty and integrity.
That reinforces the integrity and honesty of Mr Greiner, the former Premier of New South Wales. Page 74 of the ICAC report states:
. . . I accept that he relied upon Humphry's professional judgment, and believed that what was being done was in all respects lawful.
The three non-aligned Independents, who received something like 1.28 per cent of the total votes cast in the 1991 election, representing 39,422 first preference votes - I got 20,707 - publicly stated the decision was forced today. The situation has arisen where 39,000 votes are determining the future of this State. The non-aligned Independents are getting the blame. But those who are not owning up are members of that sleazy Opposition; they are basking in this glory and letting the non-aligned Independents take the blame. Own up, fellows. Stand up a bit. In a submission to the Winchester inquiry, counsel for the Federal police recommended that the honourable member for South Coast be charged with perjury. Mr Hatton had denied, when giving evidence on a potential witness, that he had spoken to a group of Victorian policemen. I do not see the Opposition doing much about that. A fact of life is that on 31st May, 1988, the honourable member for South Coast, in speaking on the bill to establish the ICAC, said:
For reasons like those expressed in Metherell's case, I do not believe that Greiner's conduct did constitute or involve the criminal offence of bribery. However I have concluded that his conduct was such as could constitute or involve reasonable grounds for dismissing him from the position of Premier.
It certainly has, particularly when it is used in a spurious manner by an Opposition that is without morals and principles. A fact of life and a tragedy is that today, 12 or so hours before the decisions were taken by the former Premier, Mr Greiner, and the former Minister for the Environment, Mr Moore, much of the popular press decided to turn around - the editorial in the Sydney Morning Herald, the editorial in the Daily Telegraph Mirror and the popular "John Laws" program. John Laws said:
The bill will give the commissioner draconian powers.
Last night on "A Current Affair" in reference to the Premier the honourable member for South Coast said:
When you think the three people who represent about 100,000 in a State of seven million have the say, I find that extraordinary. Is it democracy if three people can make up the minds of seven million?
He abused his public office, therefore he has to resign.
For weeks now, I have combed through the evidence, I have had it on disk. We've got it on a computer search program, I've had an independent assessment done.
They are being hung before the trial. I thought New South Wales was a democratic and fair State. I thought that in New South Wales people got a fair go, but obviously that is not so in many cases. But the bottom line is that the probity, the common sense and the justice could have been preserved with a little dignity in this State if members of the Opposition were prepared to act like an Opposition, to act as people who some day might be able to present themselves to the voters of New South Wales as an alternative government. [Time expired.]
Ms MOORE (Bligh) [10.7]: A lot of anger, even insults, has been expressed today, levelled at the Independents. A lot of sorrow has been expressed in relation to the resignation of the former Premier and the former Minister for the Environment. But the tough facts remain. The Parliament has to consider that the former Premier and former Minister for the Environment were active participants in the Metherell affair - the exchange of a parliamentary seat for a public service job to be paid for out of the public purse. The report shows that the member for Ku-ring-gai and the member for Gordon breached public trust and that there was a partial exercise of their official function. I refer to the preface of Ian Temby's report where he said:
I had made my assessment of the unacceptable nature of the behaviour of both Ministers in the Metherell affair, in terms of whether they behaved in the public interest and behaved with a level of probity that we would expect of a Premier and a Minister. So my mind was made up prior to the use of the word corrupt.
These facts have not been denied. These facts will not be questioned in the court. The facts as stated by Mr Temby on page 74 are as follows:
The conclusion reached is that the conduct of Mr Greiner and Mr Moore - respectively the Premier and the Minister for the Environment - was corrupt within the meaning of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988 (the ICAC Act) in that it involved the partial exercise of official functions, it also involved a breach of public trust, and could involve reasonable grounds for dismissing them from their official ministerial positions.
The facts I have found which warrant this conclusion are that Greiner:
* played a major role in the negotiations;
* which led to Metherell resigning his seat from Parliament in exchange for an SES position;
* which became his as a result of a process which was not impartial;
* involving as it did, to Greiner's knowledge, a desire on Moore's part to help a friend;
* involving as it also did political advantage to the Government, and prospectively to Greiner personally; and
These are the facts as stated by Mr Temby. These are the facts which are the heart of the matter and the substance of the issue which we are dealing with tonight in considering this report of the ICAC. The fair working definition used by the commissioner was, "the abuse of power for personal gain". This is exactly what we saw the former Premier and the former Minister for the Environment do. Mr Temby found that it involved, as it did, political advantage to the Government and prospectively to Greiner personally. I believe
that the attacks on the ICAC and Commissioner Temby are indefensible. Premier Greiner said in his second reading speech in setting up the Independent Commission Against Corruption, on 26th May, 1988, at page 673 of Hansard:
* involving as it did a senior public service position which was filled otherwise than on a competitive merit basis, in a way which favoured Metherell over all other applicants.
The Premier then said:
Let me make it absolutely clear that this initiative is a component of the Government's program to restore the integrity of public administration and public institutions in this State. Nothing is more destructive of democracy than a situation where the people lack confidence in those administrators and institutions that stand in a position of public trust. If a liberal and democratic society is to flourish we need to ensure that the credibility of public institutions is restored and safeguarded, and that community confidence in the integrity of public administration is preserved and justified.
I wholeheartedly support those words spoken in 1988. We need to remind ourselves what the commissioner was asked to do. He was not asked to examine the achievements of the Greiner Government or even the probity of the Greiner Government; he was asked to investigate and report on the Metherell resignation and appointment. On 28th April this year, when the matter was referred to the ICAC, the then Premier said:
This is not just empty rhetoric. We have a program of reforms that we will carry through.
That is what we are having now. Premier Greiner continued:
We want to have the facts on the table. And then there ought to be a parliamentary debate.
I supported the Premier then and did not ask him to stand aside. I waited for the umpire's verdict. Parliament asked for the facts and that is what we have been given in this report, as indigestible as it is to many parliamentarians in this place. Instead of the former Premier and the former Minister for the Environment respecting the umpire's decision and resigning last Friday, there has been five days of sidestepping. The former Premier misinterpreted the report on Friday. There was the claim of technical corruption and a misreading of his honesty, as explained in the Sydney Morning Herald, which stated:
The ICAC can now get on and do its job.
The article stated further:
"A court would be reluctant to take it out of the hands of Parliament," one lawyer said.
All this occurred despite the former Premier's statement on 28th April, when he said:
The barrister said: "If that's what he meant, I can understand it. You can see how, with some gymnastics, you could get Greiner's version."
The former Premier and former Minister for the Environment did not accept the ICAC findings. Instead, on Friday, as well as the misinterpretation by the former Premier, the Liberal Party-National Party machine cranked up to attack the ICAC and the commissioner. On Saturday Wal Murray denounced the ICAC. Michael Yabsley portrayed it as a monster. Peter King said that the report was legally flawed. Bronwyn Bishop and John Valder made personal attacks on Ian Temby. On Saturday the Sydney Morning Herald stated:
This House should await the findings of ICAC, when we will be able to determine all matters, judge them fairly, judge them in the cool and dispassionate light of analysis.
Mr Fraser: You are a hypocrite. Tell us about your superannuation.
Ms MOORE: Mr Speaker, I can understand why there are so many interjections: what we have to deal with tonight is so unpalatable. I agree that it is unpalatable and I wish I were not involved in this debate, but I have a responsibility to speak.
Mr Fraser: You are a hypocrite.
Ms MOORE: I am really tired of little Sir Echo repeating interjections about hypocrite and superannuation.
[Interruption from gallery]
Mr SPEAKER: Order! It is totally outside the orders of this Parliament for people in the public gallery to comment aloud in any way. If there are any further such outbursts, I will clear the gallery forthwith. I call the honourable member for Coffs Harbour to order for the second time.
Ms MOORE: As well as these outrageous attacks on the institution and the commissioner, I received a rather extraordinary document from the Deputy Premier, Minister for Public Works, and Minister for Roads stating his legal advice. I suppose this is some of the legal advice that the Government had taken last week.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Coffs Harbour to order for the third time.
Ms MOORE: In this rather extraordinary legal advice which the Deputy Premier sent me he says:
A former Liberal Party president, Mr John Valder, said yesterday that Mr Temby should have disqualified himself from presiding over the Metherell inquiry because he stood for election to Parliament as a Labor candidate in Western Australia ten years ago.
That is an extraordinary legal interpretation. I do not think we need that legal interpretation; the report speaks very clearly for itself. Instead of upholding the authority of the ICAC, the Government and the Liberal machine chose to undermine the very institution which they had established. They attacked the ICAC even when the Premier and Minister had been found guilty of corrupt conduct by the body set up by the Liberal Party under an Act of Parliament drafted under its direction and by a commissioner appointed by it. I support the ICAC. I supported its setting up. I support its activities. I believe it is an important watchdog on corruption and a much needed reform in New South Wales. I refer again to the speech of the Premier in introducing the Independent Commission Against Corruption Bill. It reinforces the poignancy and the tragedy of what we have seen today.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! If Government members wish to converse, they should do so outside the Chamber.
Ms MOORE: In 1988, referring to the ICAC, the former Premier said:
Conduct which falls within the ICAC Act does not have to be morally bad. There can be innocent corrupt conduct.
No one has been exempted. Ministers, members of Parliament, the judiciary, and the Governor will all fall within the jurisdiction of the ICAC.
Yet when we spoke with the Premier yesterday we were told that he believes there is a 50 per cent to 100 per cent chance that the Supreme Court will report that there was not corrupt conduct. The people will pay for the Supreme Court action. What do we say to the 60 Roads and Traffic Authority employees, the chief economist of the Water Board and the South Sydney council planner? Are we to say that the public purse is also to pay for their appeal or are we to say that we support the findings made by the ICAC? When this matter was referred to the ICAC, when the former Premier spoke so strongly about why it should be referred to the ICAC, he knew the rules. No one in this Chamber knew the rules as well as he did. His close adviser drafted the ICAC legislation. I refer again to what he said back in April when I supported him in referring the matter of the Metherell resignation and appointment to the ICAC. He said:
It has an extensive jurisdiction that applies across the entire ambit of the public sector.
On the question of corruption, he said:
On the corruption element, which we all agree we do not know about yet . . . the ICAC is properly going to find out and find out quickly . . .
That is a question that remains and it is a question that the ICAC is specifically set up to deal with in its terms of reference and objects.
I supported him then. He continued:
I am fully prepared to be judged by this House once ICAC reports but that is the time and not before.
Which we are doing. He continued:
The ICAC will report in a month and everyone will be able to make a judgment.
Of course, we did not have acceptance by Mr Greiner of the umpire's verdict. He said to us and to the community, "There is one set of rules for everyone else that the ICAC applies and there is another set for me so I will appeal". It is an important consideration for the House. It was the most important consideration for the Independents. We know that the matter to be decided by the Supreme Court could clear the name of the former Premier for the future. That is important to him and to the former Minister for the Environment. But what has not been challenged in the Supreme Court - and this is the crux of the matter - is the substance of this report, which is undisputed. This report is damning for the former Minister for the Environment and the former Premier. This is what we are upholding, yet this is what the former Premier and the former Minister for the Environment failed to recognise and respect last Friday. It was not until today that they were forced to respect the umpire's verdict. While the definition might be played round with by the Supreme Court - and paid for by the public purse - there will be no change as a result.
Mr Downy: What about that letter you wrote?
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Sutherland to order.
Ms MOORE: Because of that interjection I will refer to a letter I wrote. The letter is important because it was referred to by Steve Liebman, it has been all around the Government and everyone is talking about it. Interestingly, I wrote this letter to the former Premier on 13th April, at the very time the Metherell affair was occurring. In our role as representatives many of us have written hundreds and hundreds of letters to the former Premier and to the former Minister for the Environment. I said:
The Government will be able to make a judgment about questions of termination and anything else that might go with it. I am confident that my name will be cleared by the ICAC. I am confident that the name of the Minister for the Environment and that the name of the honourable member for Wakehurst will also be cleared in that forum. We have learnt the lessons and after the ICAC report is delivered we will implement its recommendations. But all the dictates of fairness and justice say that the Parliament's judgment should be preferred. There should be one judgment based on all the facts and of calm and rational consideration.
I write on behalf of several Town Planners concerned about the recently released Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) report into South Sydney Council's Planning Department.
The Planners believe that the report is biased and inaccurate, particularly in its findings on the conduct of Planner Mr Nick Horiatopoulos.
They also believe that certain recommendations from the report have had serious consequences for Nick Horiatopoulos even though he has no right of appeal.
The Planners claim that the ICAC officers involved with the Report were not familiar with NSW planning issues and policies.
For example, in recent years the State Government has encouraged local councils to hold informal discussions between planning officers and applicants before development applications are submitted.
* initiation of a review of ICAC procedures so that those being investigated are subjected to rights of appeal.
* adequate liaison between the Director of the Department of Planning and the Director of Corruption Prevention at ICAC about current planning policy, when ICAC is dealing with local government matters.
The letter I wrote on behalf of South Sydney planners speaks loudly for itself. There has been incredible misrepresentation here. Government members would like to discredit me just as they have sought to discredit Ian Temby, the ICAC, the honourable member for South Coast and the honourable member for Manly because we have acted on principle. This issue is about principles; it is not about redefining corruption. The actions are described in the report, however honourable members would like to describe them. They might want to describe them as improper; as actions that do not fit in with the ministerial code of conduct set up by the former Premier; as actions that are not in accordance with the standards of probity that are now demanded by the community; or as actions that could be regarded as corruption because honourable members accept the definition in the Act which basically is private gain from public abuse. I would like now to refer to what Mr Temby had to say on page 75 of the report in relation to the issue of principle. He said:
He was referring to the former Premier
Could your departmental officers please investigate this matter, take appropriate action and inform me of the result.
That is one of the reasons I believe that Cabinet and the Government as a whole were not involved in the activities. [Extension of time agreed to.]
If the former Premier had consulted with his Cabinet, he would have been advised that this was an unwise and improper action to take and the whole tragedy would not have unfolded as it has.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Baulkham Hills to order.
Ms MOORE: My actions and the actions of my Independent colleagues have been based on principle. Since Friday we have had an incredibly difficult time. The commissioner referred the matter to the Parliament. We hold the balance of power in this place. The commissioner's recommendation, based on extensive information in the report, was that the action represented grounds for dismissal. The former Premier and the former Minister for the Environment did not respond to the umpire's decision. It became apparent to us that so long as Government members continued to support a Premier and a Minister after a corrupt finding had been made it would be necessary for us to separate ourselves from the Government and from our agreement with the Government and support a no confidence motion in the Government as a whole. That matter was mentioned by the honourable member for South Coast and I mention it because it is critical. Today members of the Government are very concerned and sad. I acknowledge that. I, too, am concerned and sad about the resignation of the former Premier and former Minister for the Environment. But those resignations are the logical result of actions that took place, and which are described in detail in the report.
As tragic and as ironic as the outcome is, given the contributions to New South Wales of both the former Premier and the former Minister for the Environment, we had no choice. Our actions have been based on principle. We have followed our conscience. It has been incredibly difficult. We will be misrepresented and abused and we will have to put up with the gratuitous insults of the honourable member for Vaucluse. His comments about property developers paying money, feral cats and offal, and his preoccupation with superannuation tell us a lot about him. It tells us a lot about the low life creature that he is. The honourable member for Vaucluse should crawl back into the hole in which he belongs. Today I had to sit in the Chamber and put up with insults that people in the gallery heard and were shocked by.
Parliamentarians should not have to sit in this place and be insulted in such an unpleasant and nasty way. It shows a lack of dignity; it is totally inappropriate; and I am sure I have the support of the community in this regard. I assure members of the Government that when hard decisions have to be made - though they may cost me a lot in personal terms - I will make them as I have made them in the past. Next week I will not support the no confidence motion because I believe Government members have separated themselves from a Premier and a Minister who have been found to have acted corruptly. No doubt on that occasion I will be abused by members of the Opposition, but I will make the decision I believe is right and proper.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Sutherland to order for the second time.
Ms MOORE: When I signed a memorandum of understanding with the Government to ensure stability and reform in this State I was also abused. I can make tough decisions.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! There is far too much audible conversation in the Chamber.
Ms MOORE: This is a very sad day for New South Wales. It is sad because of the undoubted achievements of the former Premier and the former Minister for the Environment. The Independents developed a good working relationship with the former Minister for the Environment in the establishment of the charter of reform. This State and this Parliament have benefited tremendously from that work. I am saddened by the resignations that were announced today. The former Premier and the former Minister for the Environment had no alternative as I believe we had no alternative. Anyone who does not understand why we had no alternative should study the details of the report of the commission set up by the Government.
Mr FAHEY (Southern Highlands - Premier, Treasurer, Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for Further Education, Training and Employment, and Minister for Ethnic Affairs) [10.30], in reply: I thank honourable members for their contributions to this debate. Points of view have varied, depending upon which side of politics individual members support. At the outset I acknowledge, as I did this afternoon, that all honourable members regard the climate in which this debate has been conducted as one of great gravity. For members of the Government, this debate took place on what can only be described as a day of dishonour for this State. The debate did not have to occur today. It could have taken place at another time in a different atmosphere. However, that did not come to pass. Earlier I emphasised, as did a number of members of the Government, that the need for fairness and the opportunity of Parliament to ensure that fair play still means something in this State should have led to this debate being adjourned until some time next week when the final form of the report of the Independent Commission Against Corruption will be known to everyone.
I find some of the arguments that have been put forward from the Opposition benches difficult to understand. Notwithstanding the contents of the report, those arguments, as well as the contribution of the honourable member for Bligh, which concluded a few moments ago, based on her judgment, and the judgment of others not on the Government benches, were such that the Premier and the Minister for the Environment had to go. The time frame that was established during the debate some weeks ago was to allow for a report after a hearing by the Independent Commission Against Corruption and for Parliament to then be recalled. Why was the judgment made before Parliament was recalled? Why has the judgment been made in the past few days in the media? What has happened to the role of Parliament to examine this report and make a decision on it? Why has there not been compliance with Commissioner Temby's recommendation? He found corrupt conduct within the meaning of section 8(1) of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act such that could involve reasonable grounds for dismissal within the meaning of section 9(1)(c) of the Act. One can argue about the ability to dismiss the Premier, and that argument will take place next week in the Court of Appeal among much more learned people than those in this House.
Commissioner Temby said that Parliament must decide if dismissal is to be the ultimate outcome of his finding under section 8(1). He said the Parliament must not treat this grave and onerous task lightly. Despite that, the decision was made last Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and this morning before the bells rang for the sitting of the House. There has been no compliance whatever with the recommendation of Commissioner Temby flowing from his inquiry and no sense of fair play in the context of what Commissioner Temby recommended in grave terms. He put the onus on members of Parliament to properly exercise their responsibilities when considering dismissal and to exercise them in a way that might bring honour upon this Parliament. In the history of the State of New South Wales the great irony of the present time will be that as this debate concluded, the bodies were growing cold. They are gone, they are
politically dead, because that was demanded before the Parliament had anything to do with the report of Commissioner Temby.
Earlier today I said that history will look back to the present time and judge harshly those who have moved against the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai and the honourable member for Gordon. History will judge them harshly not because of their decisions, which I respect in the context of their being made honestly, but because of the lack of fair play and natural justice. They did not give those principles, which all honourable men and women must uphold, a chance. The execution took place before those processes had run their final course. There is nothing godlike about the ICAC. It is and will remain an essential part of this State. It will ensure that New South Wales remains the most honest State in this country. It will continue to play a role, but it is not godlike in the sense that its decision was final the moment it was delivered. Its decision will be final when it has been tested by individuals through the due process of the law, a right each individual must have now and in the future. Earlier this afternoon I referred to previous decisions of the Independent Commission Against Corruption being tested. Its decisions have been overturned by the Industrial Relations Commission, a court whose stature is nowhere near that of the Court of Appeal, the highest court in this State.
The honourable member for Ku-ring-gai and the honourable member for Gordon have asked the highest court in this State to consider whether the existing words of the report are to be the final words and to consider whether there has been an error in law that will fundamentally change the findings and fundamentally alter the reputations with which two people now have to live as a result of the report. The great irony is that members on both sides of this House and all sorts of people outside this House are saying today, will say tomorrow, and will say for ever that the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai and the honourable member for Gordon are not corrupt; they are honest people; their conduct in respect of the Metherell affair can be and has been questioned but that conduct should not be linked with corruption in the sense of that word that the average person understands. If the words "corrupt" and "conduct", which are now linked, are separated for all time by the Court of Appeal next week, innocent people will have been condemned and their careers damaged to such an extent that they cannot recover.
The achievements of the honourable member for Ku-ring-gai and the honourable member for Gordon have been mentioned during this debate by a number of members, including the honourable member for Bligh. The achievements of the former Premier particularly may never be matched in the context of what they have meant for the people of this State. Earlier today I said that the former Premier displayed loyalty to his colleagues. One of his most outstanding achievements was to get the word "corruption" out of the dictionary of the public administration of this State. He chose to honour the reforms of the past and to leave intact tribunals such as the Independent Commission Against Corruption. His other achievements will be known for many years to come. He will be recognised in the annals of the history of this State as the outstanding Premier that he was.
Mr Beckroge: He was corrupt.
Mr FAHEY: He was not corrupt. The honourable member knows that. If the honourable member for Broken Hill wishes to continue to say that the former Premier was corrupt, I suggest that he say that outside this Chamber and take his punishment, because he will get it before we are too much older.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Broken Hill to order for the second time.
Mr FAHEY: The achievements of the honourable member for Gordon were outstanding also. He has been the one genuine Minister for the Environment in Australia in the past several years who could claim honestly that he believed in the environment. He did not go on bushwalks for the sake of being filmed. He went on bushwalks long before he had the authority and the title of Minister. He had a genuine regard for the environment in a sensible, logical way, not in a gimmicky way, and will have that genuine regard until the day he dies.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the Minister for Conservation and Land Management to order.
Mr FAHEY: I conclude by saying again that the Government respects Mr Temby. That respect was evident when he was appointed with the full knowledge of his career at the disposal of the Government. Today the Government still respects Mr Temby. I repeat again that the decision he made, which is contained in the report, was made honestly and on the judgment he was given the right to exercise. There is to be no criticism of Mr Temby for the role that he plays and the role he played in this investigation. I will not be part of any criticism because I want the Independent Commission Against Corruption to survive. I do not want it destroyed by personal attacks on the person of Mr Temby. It is a matter of looking at the work and the judgment within the due process. That will continue, and it will be known to honourable members in a short time.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption must continue to look at public administration in this State in a positive way; to get out of the prosecution role it has carried out extremely well in recent times and adopt a more pro-active role; to give guidance and assistance to all members, as it will do within a few months in the second part of the reference from this Parliament with regard to the appointment of people to positions in the public sector who may have had a political connection or may have been members of Parliament. When the second part of that exercise is concluded there should be no use for the phrase jobs for the boys, because the rules will be clear and there for all to see. I hope, without prejudging what those rules might be, that they do not rule out people simply because they have served their community, their State, in this House or served their community in another House in another State or elsewhere. There must be room for honourable and capable people to take a role at a point in time when their politics within the extent of the profession no longer exists. That is an important factor; it is an important reference that must continue to be available for the people of this State to understand and for the members of this House to be guided by. That ratifies the fact that the Independent Commission Against Corruption must continue to do its job without fear and without the atmosphere and accusations of recent times. That is not to say, as I said earlier today, that it is godlike, infallible and right within the meaning of the words contained in its Act and that it will not need adjustment at some point in time. But any adjustment must be made by this Parliament, after rational debate and due inquiry. If there is to be due inquiry and rational debate that suggests that the words are there -
Mr Whelan: A minor adjustment.
Mr FAHEY: If the honourable member for Ashfield thinks that minor adjustment is more appropriate, I shall acknowledge that minor adjustment may be more appropriate.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Ashfield to order for the second time.
Mr FAHEY: I do not know whether it needs any change.
Mr SPEAKER: Order! I call the honourable member for Wallsend to order. I call the honourable member for Broken Hill to order for the third time.
Mr FAHEY: Like anyone or any institution that is a product of this Parliament, the Independent Commission Against Corruption must be continually monitored so that it best serves this community for a long time into the future. I am sure that the mechanism in place, which is a bipartisan committee of this Parliament that has regular meetings and makes a regular assessment of the progress of the ICAC, is an entirely appropriate committee to look at the organisation in the same manner it has in the past and to make recommendations to the Government if it believes those recommendations will make the ICAC an even better institution for the future. The ICAC serves the State. It will continue to do that, and the Parliament must ensure that it serves the State in the most appropriate way. I thank honourable members for their contribution to this debate, despite the sadness of today and the tragedy in human terms. Two decent people have been destroyed, not by this Parliament, as I said earlier, but by decisions that were made long before the recommendations of Commissioner Temby had an opportunity to be tested by this Parliament. I think that is the most telling point in the events of the past few days.
Motion agreed to.
- consulted more widely, it would have been pointed out to him that the proposed set of actions was deeply flawed in principle.