Ministerial Conduct Complaint

About this Item
SubjectsMinistry: New South Wales; Prisons and Prisoners; Evidence; Codes of Conduct
SpeakersSpeaker; Perry Mrs Barbara; Debus Mr Bob
BusinessQuestions Without Notice

Page: 4445

    Mrs BARBARA PERRY: My question without notice is addressed to the Attorney General. Is the Attorney aware of previous complaints made by the Wood royal commission informant W26?

    Mr BOB DEBUS: It is relevant that the Leader of the Opposition continues, even today, to traffick in false claims in this respect. Every utterance he makes brings his incapacity to lead the State into sharper focus. We do know the Leader of the Opposition's source. There was a time when the Liberal Party wanted paedophiles hung, drawn and quartered, but this hatred is apparently tempered by the hope that such a person might have something with which to smear a Labor politician. The source of the Leader of the Opposition's claim is a compulsive liar and a convicted paedophile. Honourable members need to be clear about who it is that the Leader of the Opposition has taken on as an informant. I am not speaking of Senator Heffernan. These days he is such a profoundly unsteady and discredited figure that all he has left in public life is his near psychotic tendency to raise false claims under privilege.

    I am of course talking of the source of these complaints. This is the history of the Leader of the Opposition's real source. In 1980, W26 was convicted of 19 counts of demanding money with menaces. He used to pass female bank tellers notes saying he would "blow their head off". A Corrections Department report submitted in the court proceedings at the time described WT26 as "an inveterate liar". It went on to say that he was "highly unstable emotionally and has no regard for the truth". The report went on to further state:

    [His] romantic fantasies and deceitful habits suggest the need for psychiatric assistance in an attempt to assist him to adjust to an acceptable standard of behaviour.

    The lead judgment by the Court of Appeal observed:

    The innocent bank tellers were menaced and terrified by [his] action. These actions were not single instances but extended over a long period of time, and were deliberate.

    W26 was later convicted of sexually assaulting an intellectually handicapped minor and sexual assault of another young boy. The mother of one of his victims said:

    He made my whole family's life a misery for 11 years … We feel powerless to deal with him.

    That was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald on 14 April 1998. In a witness statement prepared in 1998 the boy's mother said that W26 had been going around Bathurst gaol and "showing people photos" of her son who was in prison and "my other two sons". So the question is: Whose side is the Leader of the Opposition on? Does he believe the mum, the judge or the paedophile? Another judge who dealt with W26's child sex offending said:

    [He] acted in a seductive way. I think it not unfair to say that his behaviour was predatory in that he preyed upon these children, a mentally handicapped fifteen year old boy and a twelve year old boy and, to put it briefly, debauched them.

    The Governor of one of the prisons that W26 has been in said:

    [He] is not only a well-known paedophile but also a very manipulative, coercive, untruthful and [in] persistent denial of his offending behaviour.

    A psychologist said of him:

    He is in need of long term and intensive psychotherapy to assist him to lead any sort of functional life within the community.

    Another psychologist said:

    It is difficult to distinguish reality from fantasy in W26's version of his exploits—he appears to have a personality disorder which leads him to embellish the facts to show himself in a more favourable light.

    W26 probably displayed these characteristics when he met the staff of the Leader of the Opposition. W26's probation and parole officer said:

    He has … a reputation among custodial officers and prisoners as being very manipulative and untrustworthy. He has been described as "The Con Man".

    A report by the chairman of the Corrective Services Commission noted:

    [He] is described as polite but possessing an ability to use people to his own advantage.

    A 1994 Offenders Review Board report noted:

    [W26] perceives himself as being superior to most people, and has a tendency to exaggerate his ability, emphasise his past achievements and depreciate those who fail to support his inflated self-image. His narcissism is manufactured in his air of conviction and self-assurance.

    Are we getting the picture? W26 has had a few champions in his life—Franca Arena, Charlie Lynn—but now everybody but wild Bill Heffernan and the Leader of the Opposition have walked away from him. I have never met W26 or spoken to him, but I have been the subject of many complaints by him, as many, many other people have been over the years. He is a serial and persistent complainant. He called for my removal as Minister for Corrective Services in January 1998. So what did I do? I referred W26's allegations to the Commissioner of Police and offered co-operation. When other claims surfaced in 2003 I wrote to the Police Integrity Commission [PIC] to offer assistance. Fast forward to three years—same complaint, and again I have written to the PIC to offer assistance.

    I have done these things in full knowledge that the allegations were false in their entirety and represented nothing more than the obsessions of an individual who was damaged and sick. W26 has complained about anybody he has perceived to not do his bidding. His claims have always been grounded in fantasy and malice. I sincerely hope that the Leader of the Opposition is never held to the standard that he has applied to me. He has encouraged innuendo, smear and invective, and he has caused hardship to my family and friends. In any other environment W26's claims would have been ignored. If the allegations concerned a Liberal member of Parliament, what would the Leader of the Opposition have done? It is notable that the Coalition's policy called "Protecting our Children: Reducing Child Sex Offending" states:

    Sex offending against children is a special type of crime because of:

    ? The extreme vulnerability of child victims; and
    ? The pathological nature of child sex offenders.

    The Leader of the Opposition is on the record as saying that paedophiles should be named so that the public can keep an eye on them. He has also said that they cannot be rehabilitated. So, are we expected to believe that this class of offender cannot be rehabilitated and are pathological, but that they make very reliable political advisers and informants?

    Here is the explanation for what W26 has complained of for almost 10 years. Let us hope to God it is the last time anybody has to make it. Prison authorities, victims and parents of victims 10 years ago wanted this offender moved from one gaol to another so that he could not confront and intimidate a former child sexual assault victim then in the same facility into changing his earlier evidence that had led to one of W26's many convictions for child sexual abuse. I am advised that when prison authorities searched W26's cell they found a photo of the target of his intended intimidation and photos of dozens of other young boys, including the victim's brothers. Later I received a letter from the former leader of the New South Wales Coalition, Kerry Chikarovski. She was at the time shadow Minister for corrections, not the leader. In a letter dated 27 April 1998 she mentioned the name of the mother and said:

    She is very distressed that her son is being contacted by a fellow inmate, W26.

    She said to me:

    I would ask you to investigate my concerns and assist this woman in whatever way you can.

    Yours sincerely,
    Kerry Chikarovski.

    The former Leader of the Opposition supported the victim's mother; the present Leader of the Opposition has supported the perpetrator.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Attorney General has the call.

    Mr BOB DEBUS: The Leader of the Opposition has stepped where Kerry Chikarovski and John Brogden would not go even though they were armed with this same information. He has instead, suggestively and maliciously, held me to account for these questions during the past week. The simple fact is that the mother of one of W26's victims did not want W26 making any more overtures to her son whom W26 had previously abused.

    This is my final week in this place. I have been here for nearly 19 years and have been lucky enough to spend a good period of that time on the front bench. I will miss many things: My colleagues, a few on the other side, the pace of Parliament when a policy debate is running, legislating for things like better sexual assault laws and environmental reform. Today in the Blue Mountains my constituents and the men and women of the Rural Fire Service, whom I had the privilege of serving as Minister, are locked in struggle over a tremendously dangerous threat from bushfire. I will miss these things, but I must say I will not miss one thing—the present Leader of the Opposition. He has caused me to defend myself against the worst and unsubstantiated claims when all others had the judgment to ignore them.

    Mr SPEAKER: Order! The House will come to order. The Attorney General has call.

    Mr BOB DEBUS: The Leader of the Opposition's claims are rotten, and when something is rotten it is rotten to the core.