Wednesday, 4 March 2015
Hadgkiss, Mr Nigel
This evening I want to talk about a manifest abuse of the privileges we have in this place by a senator so that she could besmirch the personal reputation of a senior statutory officer holder by smear and innuendo of the worst kind, without a single shred of evidence.
Last evening as the adjournment debate drew to a close, Senator Rhiannon of the Australian Greens delivered a speech that unfolded as a personal attack on a senior Australian public servant who holds an important statutory office. In delivering her smear, she cleverly tried to avoid direct accusation, preferring the coward's way of attacking by imputation. This attack on the director of Fair Work Building and Construction, Mr Nigel Hadgkiss, occurred in the context of a long-running CFMEU smear campaign against him. This campaign is part of a broader smear campaign being spearheaded by the union's national secretary, Dave Noonan, who has a record of smearing and victimising anyone brave enough to speak out about the behaviour of his union.
The CFMEU's agents of influence in this place have repeatedly tried to attack this public servant. Following estimates in October last year, the CFMEU's former employee Senator Wong asked a question on notice relating to Mr Hadgkiss's career and his achievements. This question asked for a range of details about his background, including details of all 15 commendations received by him—
The insinuation of the work by Senator Wong related that these commendations were somehow not genuine. Not surprisingly, all of the 15 of these commendations were exactly as they appeared. At Senate Estimates last week, the CFMEU's most faithful advocate, Senator Cameron, again attempted to smear Mr Hadgkiss. This time, Senator Cameron made the absurd allegation that Mr Hadgkiss was compromised by receiving a cup of tea from building companies—a totally pathetic assertion.
I rise on a point of order. A raise a similar point that has been raised so far. There is a customary practice in this chamber that if you are to besmirch the reputation of another senator you at least provide the courtesy of informing the senator so that they may well want to be here to hear these remarks, and may well refute them. Given that the senator has not actually said that he has actually contacted the senator, I take it that, in fact, the opposite is the case.
But as Dave Noonan's and the CFMEU's desperation has increased, so too has the level of smears. Last night, the CFMEU's desperation reached a new level when it sent the Greens senator, Senator Rhiannon, to use privilege to again attack a distinguished statutory officer holder, bizarrely accusing him of somehow being complicit in murder and torture in Northern Ireland. Senator Rhiannon based her whole tissue of smear on the fact that Mr Hadgkiss—
So the basis of this tissue of smear was that one time Mr Hadgkiss visited the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland as a member of Australia's premier national crime authority. Then she went on to provide the Senate with a colourful and selective history of the formal Royal Ulster Constabulary. At this point, it is worth recounting the record of CFMEU smears, led by its chief smear merchant, National Secretary Dave Noonan. Mr Noonan is well known for his regular visits to Parliament House, so we should not be surprised that Senator Rhiannon has now been activated as part of his union's smear campaign.
The CFMEU's corrupt and criminal activities were exposed at various points last year in the Heydon Royal Commission. Each time, this evidence was met with smears and retribution from Dave Noonan. This prompted counsel assisting the royal commission to conclude that there had been a: 'CFMEU slur campaign against witnesses who were willing to give evidence against them.' This slur campaign was extensive and shameful. When Boral CEO Mike Kane blew the whistle on the CFMEU blackmail and secondary boycotts, Dave Noonan personally attacked Kane as the CEO of a multinational company. When CFMEU official Luke Collier had intimidated and threatened FWBC inspectors at Barangaroo, including calling a female inspector an 'f-ing slut', Dave Noonan excused this behaviour by saying that swearing on building sites was nothing new.
Last November, brave whistleblowers in the New South Wales branch of the CFMEU came forward on ABC to reveal the union's involvement in:
…corruption, association with murderers, association with gangsters, association with terrorists, money being paid to union officials, union officials intimidating other union officials, union officials being forced out of their jobs and their careers…
So what was Dave Noonan's response to that? He issued a press release smearing the whistleblowers as:
…a faction operating within the NSW branch of the CFMEU that is attempting to destabilise the current leadership…
When Assistant Commissioner of Victoria Police Stephen Fontana implicated senior CFMEU officials in direct links to organised crime, counsel for the CFMEU tried to smear the assistant commissioner by asserting that he was engaged in cultural warfare and outrageously claimed that, in fact, Victoria Police was part of the problem. It was no surprise that Dave Noonan's union would attempt to use a compliant Senate in the parliament to again engage in its smear campaign against those who reveal the ugly truth about this corrupt union.
What was notable about Senator Rhiannon's speech last night was not just its sheer desperation and Noonan-inspired level of spite and rage but its absolute utter hypocrisy:
I urge Hadgkiss to provide details about his past.
Let me say that again, but this time more slowly so that the irony is not lost:
I urge Hadgkiss to provide details about his past.
If Senator Rhiannon is now demanding of others that they explain their past then she is certainly inviting reflection on her own past. And what an interesting past it is! Senator Rhiannon, as we know, was a longstanding member of the Communist Party of Australia and its Moscow-aligned successors. When her heroes and mentors in the Soviet Union were running a police state that engaged in arbitrary arrest and mass torture, ran concentration camps, conducted unilateral invasions of sovereign states and oversaw all amounts of human rights abuses—
Lee Brown, as Senator Rhiannon was then known, was not only a fellow traveller but a proud and passionate pro-Soviet communist. So tonight I make exactly the same demand of Senator Rhiannon as she made of Hadgkiss in exactly the same terms: I urge Senator Rhiannon to provide details about her past. Of course, I am not the first person to ask this of Senator Rhiannon. She has many questions still to answer. As a former ASIO intelligence officer said, as quoted in a story entitled 'Secret past of Greens senator Lee Rhiannon' in The Australian on 28 January 2012:
Because of Lee's parents' political disposition, the Soviets were starting to groom Lee as a future fully fledged recruit, and getting in as early as possible so that they could maximise the degree to which they could define her cover and career.
And maximise they did. The same report also quotes recovering Communist Mark Aarons, a former associate of the Brown family, who wrote:
In 1977, Rhiannon led an SPA delegation to Moscow—
I will. The quote continues:
at the invitation of Leonid Brezhnev's neo-Stalinist regime."
And I further quote:
Rhiannon edited the pro-Soviet and Soviet-supported monthly magazine Survey, founded by her father, from his retirement in 1988 until it ceased publication, staying at the helm even after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
On her visit to Moscow, Senator Rhiannon also studied at the International Lenin School In Moscow. However, she has never divulged exactly what it was she studied or what other activities she engaged in whilst in Moscow. So I invite her to provide these details of her past.
Senator Rhiannon has never explained what arrangements she had with Moscow as an agent of influence, nor has she ever explained what she received in return. As Mr Aarons also said of Senator Rhiannon in 2010, 'I could not conceive of someone of my age and experience supporting Moscow's politics.' Yet that is what Lee Brown, as she once was, did. Even Communists with a conscience, such as Mr Aarons, have denounced Senator Rhiannon's lack of conscience in supporting the Soviet Union.
Last night, Senator Rhiannon delivered an appalling smear against Mr Hadgkiss on behalf of the CFMEU. She asserted that because Mr Hadgkiss visited Northern Ireland at a time when certain violent acts were taking place, that he is somehow implicated in those acts. Senator Rhiannon herself stated, 'There is no suggestion that Hadgkiss was involved in crimes committed by the RUC.' Of course there is not. But that did not stop her from claiming that he is somehow implicated in anything that the RUC might have done. Just a few lines later in her speech, after detailing some particular incidents that occurred in Northern Ireland, she reverses this position and says, and I quote again, 'Hadgkiss cannot use the excuse that the crimes perpetuated by the RUC were not known when he visited.' This is the lowest form of smear: when no evidence exists, simply assert 'guilty by association', no matter how ludicrous the claim, in the hope some mud might stick. As Senator Rhiannon's hero Vladimir Ilych Lenin once said, 'A lie told often enough becomes the truth.' (Time expired)