NSW Labor

Photo of magnifying glass
31 July 2019

Consideration

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) (15:56:28): My motion should be accorded priority because, in the words of Sir Elton John and Bernie Taupin, "sorry seems to be the hardest word". NSW Labor has engaged in reprehensible behaviour by lodging an entirely scurrilous complaint against the ICAC investigation into allegations of illegal political donations to NSW Labor involving the Chinese Friends of Labor and the possible foreign influence in the New South Wales electoral process. It is quite clear that the Chinese Friends of Labor really should have been called the Labor Friends of the People's Republic of China.

That Labor complaint has now been dismissed by Bruce McClintock, SC, the independent Inspector of ICAC, which now provides the New South Wales Leader of the Opposition with a great opportunity. She can disassociate herself from the corrupt Labor Government that she was a Minister in from 2008 to 2011. No State Liberal MP has ever been found corrupt by the ICAC. But by contrast Labor has a sorry history of corruption and lawlessness. ALP members of Parliament found corrupt as MPs by ICAC include Eddie Obeid, Ian Macdonald, Tony Kelly, Joe Tripodi, Angela D'Amore and Karyn Paluzzano. Prison time has been served by former Labor MPs Obeid, Macdonald, "Buckets" Rex Jackson and Milton Orkopoulos. Paluzzano was sentenced to home detention following a guilty plea for falsely claiming parliamentary allowances.

In light of that history one would think that the ALP would want to cooperate with ICAC in its investigations. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Rather than cooperate with the ICAC investigations, NSW Labor complained to the Inspector of ICAC that ICAC did what any investigator does and executed a search warrant to obtain information. This motion calls on the Leader of the Opposition to once and for all say that the ALP is not beyond the law. She should denounce the ALP complaints against ICAC and simply say sorry. She should instruct ALP MPs and the ALP machinery to cooperate fully with ICAC. She would then help to shine a light on any further corrupt conduct by the ALP. Now is a great opportunity for the member for Strathfield. She just has to say one word to ICAC—sorry. That would let the world know that New South Wales Labor was wrong to attack the ICAC instead of cooperating with its investigation.

 

Priority

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) (16:10:13): I move:

That this House:

(1)Notes that an August public inquiry has been announced by the Independent Commission Against Corruption into NSW Labor.

(2)Notes the Independent Commission Against Corruption inspector's report dismissing NSW Labor's complaint against the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

(3)Notes that the Independent Commission Against Corruption referred to assertions in NSW Labor's complaint as entirely scurrilous.

(4)Calls on the Leader of the Opposition to apologise to the Independent Commission Against Corruption on behalf of NSW Labor.

It was a very sorry state of affairs when we learned this morning from the Independent Commission Against Corruption that, commencing on 26 August 2019, there will be a six-week public hearing that will rip the scab off the dodgy relationship between the New South Wales Labor Party and illegal donations to it. It is extraordinary how these matters came to the public's attention. It is a classic case of an own goal by the New South Wales Labor Party. The party wrote a letter complaining about the execution of a search warrant on the premises of the New South Wales Labor Party.

Ms Anna Watson: You lot wanted to get rid of ICAC.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! The member for Shellharbour will either resume her seat or leave the Chamber.

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS: In completely overblown language, Labor asserted that ICAC engaged in conduct that it said might amount to maladministration—an extraordinary allegation. That allegation was met with the response from ICAC that the assertion of any maladministration by ICAC was entirely scurrilous. ICAC was fulfilling its statutory obligation to investigate matters that were in its possession. According to the report by the Inspector of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Bruce McClintock, SC, the investigation that is being undertaken by ICAC into NSW Labor will investigate false statements in electoral declarations and investigate schemes to circumvent donation restrictions and other offences involving failure to keep records. This is a major ICAC investigation into NSW Labor. As is clear from the inspector's report, it will also involve possible foreign influence in New South Wales electoral processes.

The investigation would appear to be centred around, in particular, a March 2015 Chinese Friends of Labor dinner. I have a photograph in my possession that was taken at the dinner, and it must be said that it will be very difficult for any member of the New South Wales Labor Party to speak to this motion without potentially compromising their probable evidence before ICAC. This photograph is not a police line-up so I may wrongly identify some of the people. The photograph shows that the Hon. Adam Searle was in attendance, as was the failed New South Wales leader aspirant, the member for Kogarah—someone whom I should refer to as the shadow Opposition leader, the reserve or the next Opposition leader, probably in about 18 months. The member for Summer Hill, the member for Bankstown, the Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane, MLC, and the member for Heffron— unless I am identifying him wrongly in the photograph—were also there.

The Labor mayor of Ryde, Jerome Laxale, was there. Former upper House member the Hon. Ernest Wong was there. The former New South Wales Leader of the Opposition, Luke Foley, was there, as well as the almost Australian Prime Minister Bill Shorten—he will have to retract those comments he made to the Terminator—and Chris Bowen, the former shadow Treasurer. The event was full of Labor MPs, past and present. It is certainly going to be a very interesting investigation. Also within the sights of ICAC is Jonathan Yee, whom, according to other photographs I have, is clearly well known to the Leader of the Opposition, the member for Strathfield. So we have both aspirants for the Labor leadership clearly implicated with people who are of interest to ICAC. That justifies this motion being before the House.

 

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gai) (16:27:11): In reply: I speak more in sorrow than in anger. On this motion accorded priority, the Labor Party put forward a distinguished criminal barrister in the member for Heffron and a law PhD in the member for Prospect, but neither of them really had anything to say. I was a little bit fearful during the address of the member for Heffron because I thought he complained too much. I had this little feeling that he may have been involved in the completely misconceived challenge to the search warrant given the way that he tried to defend it, saying that it was perfectly reasonable to challenge it. I named him as I thought he was in the photograph of other members of Parliament. He did not deny it.

Mr Dominic Perrottet: Who was that?

Mr ALISTER HENSKENS: The member for Heffron. He did not deny it. I will take his failure to deny it to mean that he was in attendance in the March 2015 Chinese Friends of Labor dinner, which possibly means he could be a witness in the ICAC inquiry. He made the extraordinary assertion that the raid was completely unproductive. How would he have known? How does he know what ICAC was looking for? That seems to be what can only be described as an extraordinary assertion. The contribution from the member for Prospect was very ordinary, to put it at its highest.

The best he could do in his contribution was talk about Robert Menzies founding the Liberal Party and three former New South Wales Premiers. He spoke about the current leadership of the Liberal Party. He was unable to identify any Liberal MP who has ever been found guilty of corruption by ICAC in New South Wales, compared with the seven Labor MPs that I mentioned, who were all found guilty of corruption by ICAC. Of those MPs, four or five have served prison time, including one who is serving time for sexual misconduct on a minor. It was a very pedestrian performance. I compliment the member for North Shore on her contribution. She was absolutely right: The stench of corruption has not been taken out of NSW Labor. [Time expired.]