The Hon. R.I. LUCAS (15:30): The past two weeks in South Australian politics have been dominated by the events surrounding Premier Mike Rann and his alleged assault two weeks ago. My experience with these types of issues in the past is that generally it is not the issue itself that causes the most grief: it is the way the politician responds to and handles the issue that ends up causing the most grief.
There is no doubt that the Premier, the Deputy Premier Kevin Foley and Labor spin doctors have not handled this issue well and have created even more problems for the Premier. Whenever difficult questions have been asked, the Premier’s position has been that he is unable to comment on the issue because it is before the courts. However, the hypocrisy of the Premier’s position is clear when he, the Attorney-General and others comment publicly on many other cases before the courts. These include current cases involving the gang of 49 members and the legal claim against United Water.
The Premier cannot be allowed to get away with just picking and choosing on the basis of political convenience when he believes in this principle. Either the Premier believes in this principle and applies it to all cases and not just those that are politically convenient, or he is exposed as a political hypocrite. The Premier has also on his public statements on this issue sought to imply that some of his current problems have been brought about by some form of Liberal dirty tricks campaign. Liberal leader Isobel Redmond has already rejected publicly these allegations.
However, I can now indicate that a number of members of the Liberal Party have had copies of the letters and these allegations for almost four years, and this issue has not been aired in the media during all that time. It is clear that the problems and questions confronting the Premier can be addressed or answered only by the Premier himself. Until he does, there will continue to be significant media and community interest in this issue.
The Premier continues to raise the issue of dirty tricks while studiously avoiding the activities of the Rann Labor Party’s ‘dirty tricks unit’ over a long period of time. Today, due to time limitations I will refer only to some of its recent activities relating to me, but I will be happy to speak at greater length on another occasion.
In the past month or so, quite an elaborate website has been constructed as a device to make a series of untrue and defamatory allegations about me, such as corruption, fraud, fraudulent misappropriation of travel allowances and condoning domestic violence against women. This website was conveniently forwarded to members of parliament, journalists and a number of other significant commentators. Some of the other claims on this website mirror almost exactly claims made against me by Attorney-General Atkinson and Minister for Correctional Services Tom Koutsantonis in the House of Assembly.
Secondly, a former member of the Rann cabinet recently met with a Liberal colleague of mine to indicate that, unless I backed off in my recent attacks on Rann ministers, they had a dirt file on all my activities over the years which they would release. This MP outlined that, amongst other things, it included a history of my alcohol problem—which I must admit would be a source of great amusement to my colleagues—and a list of all the pubs and clubs I have frequented over the years, together with a record of my psychiatric problems!
Finally, one night this week a journalist called me at home saying he had been given certain information about me, and he wanted to know whether it was true that my wife had left me. After quietly consulting my wife while we were eating dinner, I was able to say no to the question. Given these other recent events, it is quite clear where this information had come from.
I have a simple message to the Premier and his fellow travellers in the Labor Party. We will not be intimidated by this sort of dirty tricks campaign and will continue, as always, to hold him to account for the broken promises, waste, mismanagement and arrogance of his Labor government.