Queensland Independent Newspaper

Speaker oversteps says whistleblower

By Fiona Hamilton

ACTIONS which resulted in alterations to a petition before it was tabled in Parliament should be investigated by the Parliamentary Privileges Committee, according to whistleblower and former union official Kevin Lindeberg.

Mr Lindeberg was referring to alterations made by speaker Ray Hollis to the Lindeberg petition, a document that outlined the shredding of the Heiner documents and related matters.

Mr Hollis made the alterations, which consisted of highlighting particular sections of the petition, before the document was tabled in Parliament on 27 October 1999.

Mr Lindeberg claimed the highlighting placed unnecessary emphasis on certain passages in the petition over others and thus constituted defacement of an original document.

He said such changes were "highly inappropriate".

"This conduct represents contempt of Parliament and thus warrants examination by the Ethics and Parliamentary Privileges Committee," Mr Lindeberg said.

He said both the Speaker and the Clerk had breached the Standing Rules and Orders of Parliament by tampering with the petition.

"The actions are very serious as this case indicates that any report tabled in Parliament could have been interfered with by the Speaker," Mr Lindeberg said.

A spokesperson for the Speaker said Mr Hollis had recognised that he made an error. Mr Hollis said areas of the petition were highlighted because he thought it was a copy.

"Mr Hollis marked the areas that needed further review and discussion with the Parliament clerk with a highlighter pen," the spokesperson said.

"He subsequently learnt the document was an original."

The spokesperson said Mr Hollis had asked Mr Lindeberg for a clean copy of the petition so it could be re-tabled in Parliament.

"Yet Mr Lindeberg has not made a genuine attempt to discuss this offer," the spokesperson said.

He said although Mr Lindeberg had legal concerns in regard to duplicating the document, these "would be addressed by the Speaker making a disclosure of his error to the Parliament at the time of re-tabling", the spokesperson said.

Clerk of the Federal Senate Harry Evans said the highlighting of a petition after its signature and before its presentation in Parliament would fall under the area of tampering of an official document.

Mr Evans said tampering with petitions had been held to be in contempt of the House of Representatives and precedents had been cited.

Extracts from the book "Enemy of the State" (Chapter: "Shreddergate":

When Grice presented the motion he tabled an astounding bundle of documents supplied to him by Lindeberg after the Speaker, Ray Hollis, refused to act on Lindeberg's complaint.

An Independent member, Peter Wellington, who promised to hold the Beattie Government accountable, voted with the Government despite having first hand knowledge of the irrefutable evidence against Beattie.

The documents tabled by Grice make extraordinary reading - and one can understand why the Beattie Government was so desperate to prevent it going forward for impartial examination, because if he was to be found in contempt, his resignation would have had to follow - throwing his "accountable" government into crisis.

The documents contained hitherto "unknown" correspondence between Mr Lindeberg and the Forde Inquiry. The letters are explosive. They showed the true nature of the Forde Inquiry and how it was politicised from the very outset by the Beattie Government when its "terms of reference" were deliberately restricted to only permit investigation into the incidents of child abuse but not the shredding of the evidence of that abuse which Lindeberg had constantly complained about during that entire period.

The Speaker withholds the damning documents:

The documents tabled by Grice also reveal that the Speaker of the Queensland Parliament, Ray Hollis, held the Lindeberg contempt complaint up for some 60 days. Hollis, under pressure by Lindeberg for action to be taken, then informed him that he would not consider any matter of privilege/contempt being brought to his attention by anyone other than a Member of Parliament. Despite himself being a Member of Parliament Hollis refused to do this.

In taking this course of inaction, he reversed the Parliament's Standing Orders as other Speakers have always accepted those types of grievances from the public and referred them onto the Members' Ethics and Parliamentary Privileges Committee providing they had substance.

This inaction by the Speaker resulted in Lindeberg's approach to Alan Grice to table the documents and to seek a reference to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee.

The Beattie Government plainly demonstrated that its desperation was now so great that it was then prepared to abuse the Parliamentary process by using its numbers in the House, including (the convicted paedophile) D'Arcy, to defeat a motion which would have resulted in an investigation into the alleged criminality associated with the shredding of the Heiner documents. The Courier-Mail was implicated by association when it failed in its duty to act in the public interest. The paper never reported on this serious contempt by the Premier - and the manner in which the Parliamentary processes have been abused.


The Speaker leaves his mark on the Lindeberg Petition:

You will note crayon and pencil marks and shading of text within the document you receive. These notations are understood to have been made by the Speaker, Ray Hollis, before the document was tabled in Parliament. This is an extraordinary defacing of a Petition that he knew was to be tabled. The marks are made alongside a number of points which are and should be of concern to a Labor Government which publicly claims to be "accountable".

The Lindeberg Petition scratches the surface revealing the anarchy under which Queenslanders live - and how they can be singled out if they step out of line.