Background: On the 19th September Queensland Senator Barnaby Joyce wanted to table a 3,000 page Audit of the Heiner affair by a leading Sydney QC, Mr David Rofe in the Senate. It took two years to compile, and is said to contain some 66 prima facie criminal charges which require urgent attention.
One month earlier an unprecedented Statement of Concern signed by eminent legal officers including 5 Judges, a Law academic and Barrister and a leading Australian QC calling on Mr Beattie to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate the Heiner Affair had been delivered into his hands. Shortly afterwards, Premier Beattie resigned. It is generally thought that the Audit may implicate federal opposition leader, Labor's Kevin Rudd in the shredding of the Heiner documents.
If the Audit had been tabled the public would have been able to access the legal opinion on why so many powerful Labor political identities, both state and federal, might be charged with prima facie breaches of the Criminal Code. Under Parliamentary law, all it took was one Labor Senator to object to prevent the Audit being tabled and therefore becoming a "public" document protected by parliamentary privilege.
And a Labor Senator did.
This is Rudd's accountable government already showing its true colours.
Senator JOYCE (Queensland) (7.20 pm)
Paedophilia, child abuse and rape: documents concerning these issues discovered in the Heiner inquiry were shredded because of the wish to cover up crimes because of certain individuals who were involved. The excuse that the inquiry was supposed to deal with only the management of the John Oxley Youth Detention Centre was a frail attempt to bury the crimes that became evident. The cabinet of the day could have given retrospective privilege to the matters by legislation but chose not to. Issues were referred to the police commissioner and he refused to take action. Cases remained open and justice was not done. Evidence was destroyed, and that is a clear breach of section 129 of the Queensland Criminal Code. Eminent jurists, from the late Sir Harry Gibbs to Justice Meagher to Barry OKeefe, all spoke in unison that evidence to a crime in your possession cannot be destroyed. Are all these people muckraking? Are they all complicit and working in unison for a devious political purpose or are they in the pursuit of the course of justice?
Contrary to the claims of both the current Leader of the Opposition and the former Premier of Queensland, there has been no inquiry devoted to the Heiner affair and given access to the documents necessary to bring transparency to the scandalous cover-up. No inquiry has ever summonsed either those involved in the decision to shred the documents from Magistrate Noel Heiners inquiry or any of those who participated in this act. No archivist, secretary of the cabinet, ministerial or departmental public officialnot a single minister of the Crownhas ever been questioned. Not one union official, apart from the whistleblower Kevin Lindeberg, has given evidence.
Not a single person has ever testified on oath about the pack rape of a young girl, the principal victim, while she was in the care of the Queensland government. Nobody has ever been asked on oath about the extraordinary payment made to the former head of the juvenile detention centre where she and her attackers were held. No-one associated with it has been questioned, not even the audit officers.
There has never been an adequate explanation of the DPPs advice given to the Borbidge government on 6 January 1997, based on a most fundamental misinterpretation of section 129 of the Criminal Code, which has never been relied on since. The audit performed by David Rofe QC makes clear that the cover-up of this matter has been a corrupting influence on the Queensland legal system. The conceit of some that this 3,600-page report was contrived purely for them today when it was started two years ago, when the key stakeholders in this parliament were different, and completed last Sunday is astonishing and only gives more weight to the issue that they are very sensitive to the truth.
This is Australias Watergate, only this time Nixon goes free. The US had the power to take on their President with Kenneth Starr in the Lewinsky scandal, but we have ducked from the wish of pursuing what I believe is far worse, because of the political ramifications.
The most inane excuse that is currently delivered is that it is too hard.
If you were to drive to work tomorrow and on the way take a photo of a park in which a rape was taking place, then after arriving at work discuss the photo, then shred it because the rape was not supposed to be part of the photo of the park, would you believe, without knowing anything of the law, you were doing something wrong? You would have been in breach of section 129 of the Criminal Code in Queensland. If you were concerned you may have been in breach and sought legal advice to say you were not doing something wrong, it makes it neither legal nor right. Ignorance of the law is not a defence, nor does bad legal advice make you immune from the law. If you were part of contriving the legal advice then it further enunciates your guilt. In the room with the shredder is a large group of people. The closer to the shredder, the larger the fault. The people in the room have a position of power, which makes it even more essential that the principles of justice and all being equal before the law be even more forthrightly asserted. That time has passed does not diminish the guilt of a crime that obfuscation has prevented from being tested.
Has this issue been taken to the police? Not only has it been taken to the police, but it has been there for the past 19 years.
Now a writ of mandamus will be issued to bring this issue back into the light. Further issues were referred to the Queensland Commissioner of Police, who refused to take action. Parliamentary privilege could have been retrospectively given to the evidence in 1990, but this course was avoided because of the ramifications of justice.
I have crossed the floor on the legal rights of David Hicks. I was part of the reason the legal rights of the West Papuan refugees were preserved. But it is only now, when the people in a position of power are threatened, that there are those who state it is smear and muckraking. Fiat justitia ruat caelum: though heaven may fall, justice will be done.
This issue has seen the attempt to use the mechanisms available in Queensland, and they have obfuscated, contrived and corrupted the process. Public ventilation of these crimes is crucial in bringing this issue out of its contrived maze and into the light of conclusion.
Yes, Australia does have the right to have questions answered pertaining to the character or criminality of key future political office holders. Prima facie charges appear available for the prosecution of key members in this parliament and in Queensland. A proper investigation may dispel these. I seek leave to move that the documents in the Rofe report now be tabled.
Leave not granted.
Actual Hansard document at this link - see page 100
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