Can You Help?

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Campbell Quits Howard Ministry Over Burke Connections

The Brian Burke controversy has claimed the job of a Howard Government minister.

Senator Ian Campbell (Liberal, WA), former Minister for Human Services The Minister for Human Services, Senator Ian Campbell, a Liberal from Western Australia, resigned today following revelations in morning newspapers that he met with the former Western Australian Premier in June last year.

According to The Australian, Campbell met with Burke on June 8 last year “to discuss an indigenous cultural centre planned as part of a massive redevelopment of race courses on the Swan River”. According to the paper, “Senator Campbell’s office was approached by Julian Grill, Mr Burke’s business partner, to arrange a meeting. Mr Burke and Mr Grill were being paid by Perth Racing, the old West Australian Turf Club, to assist with a proposal for a multi-million-dollar urban development. The cultural centre proposal was thought to be a sweetener to help win approval for the wider development project. Mr Grill pulled out of the meeting with Senator Campbell the night before.” [Read more…]


Rudd Defends Himself Over Meetings With Burke

A visibly shaken Kevin Rudd held a press conference today at which he defended himself over three meetings with the Western Australian lobbyist and former premier, Brian Burke.

The Opposition Leader’s media appearance came after a savage attack on his credibility by the Treasurer, Peter Costello, during Question Time in the House of Representatives.

Rudd defended himself against suggestions of succumbing to influence-peddling by Burke. He said that with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight it would have been better for him not to have met with Burke.

This is the transcript of the press conference held by the Leader of the Opposition, Kevin Rudd.

Rudd:

Today in Parliament Mr Howard attacked my honesty and I’m here today to reject that absolutely. There were three occasions that I have met with Mr Burke, or I’ve been at occasions where he’s been in attendance. One was at a breakfast at Graham and Noelene Edwards’ house in Perth. I often stay there. And my recollection is that on that occasion Mr Burke came around for that breakfast. The other was a coffee at a restaurant with Graham and Noelene and a couple of their friends. And the third was a dinner at a restaurant to which Graham and been invited and I was invited by Graham in turn. At the restaurant in question, my recollection is about 20 or 30 people were there and there was a general discussion around the table.

On top of that some time later in 2005 Mr Burke offered to organise a dinner for me with some journalists. When Mr Burke made efforts to organise that and I became aware of that, I declined that offer.

The second point I’d make in terms of these matters is as follows, that when all these concerns about Mr Burke’s activities in recent times became public in November last year, I indicated quite clearly then that I’d met with Mr Burke on a couple of occasions and I’ve said that in answer to any questions to that effect since then.

Now, the other point I’d make is that when it comes to the nature of the discussions when Mr Howard questions my honesty. On no occasion in any of these meetings was any matter of business discussed, Mr Burke’s business or no occasion was any request for any assistance on my part when it came to his business operations, none whatsoever.

On the question which has been raised today about Mr Gallop’s ban when it came to contact with Mr Burke, when I met with him in ’05 I was unaware of that ban. I am still uncertain as to the scope of that ban. One of the reports that I’ve received is that it applied to members of the WA State Parliament.

Yesterday when I was asked in a general press conference here about the question of meetings between the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party and Mr Burke today, I confirmed the fact that I was banning future contact between members of the FPLP and Mr Burke. That was consistent with a decision taken by Kim Beazley back in November of ‘06 and by the National Secretary, Tim Gartrell. I was reaffirming that decision.

Since then, what I have done is asked the Whips to check and ensure that no-one had in any way been in contact with Mr Burke, consistent with that ruling laid down by the National Secretary and then Leader in November. And what the Whips have discovered is that a couple of our WA MPs, Mr Graham Edwards and Senator Mark Bishop, have on a couple of occasions in recent months met with Mr Burke, they have assured the Whips office. I’m advised that these were meetings of a personal nature. In the case Graham Edwards, they were personal greetings at Christmas and on birthdays. And in the case of Mark Bishop, they have to do with the fact that I understand Senator Bishop’s wife and Mrs Burke are close personal friends. Both these members of the Federal Parliamentary Party have been counselled by the Whip concerning these matters.

They are the particular points I wanted to put to you in my remarks here and I go back to where I began. And that is that today in Parliament and beyond the Parliament there’ve been attacks on my honesty. I reject those attacks completely. Would it have been better for me not to have met with Mr Burke, had I known what Mr Burke was up to at the time? Of course. Did I have the faintest idea that Mr Burke was engaged in activities which are now the subject of the CCC? Of course I was not. So, therefore, with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, of course I would not have met with Mr Burke. I had no knowledge of those matters then.

Now, I’m happy to take any questions.

Journalist:

Whatever the reasons and whatever you knew, wasn’t it a gross error of judgement to meet with Mr Burke who, at that stage, you at least knew was a convicted criminal and a (inaudible) influence on the WA ALP?

Rudd:

A great personal friend of mine is Graham Edwards and when it came to Graham’s long standing personal friendship with Brian Burke I felt some obligation of friendship to Graham to meet and that is the judgement that I took at the time. As I said before, with 20-20 hindsight I would not have done that. I had no idea at the time that Mr Burke was engaged in the activities which are currently the subject of the CCC investigation.

Journalist:

What was discussed at these occasions?

Rudd:

My recollection of these conversations is that they were of a general political nature about the current state of national politics, the current state of State politics, and things of that nature. Can I say that these were discussions way back in 2005. But I don’t wish to misrepresent them. Of course they would’ve involved discussions about the current political environment as it existed at that time.

Journalist:

Can you explain how you were unaware of the ban placed on this man by the Premier, a ban placed on convicted criminals, how were you unaware of that?

Rudd:

Well, it’s just a fact and it’s telling the truth. And as I said, in terms of the scope of the ban, it’s a question as to whether it applied to members of the WA State Parliament or more broadly. That is an open question.

Journalist:

(inaudible) dinner in 2005, now you say that you were unaware as to whether it was a fundraiser. Graham Edwards tells us he was unaware, he can’t remember who paid, whether he paid, whether you paid, whether Brian Burke paid. Who did pay and what did the other attendees pay?

Rudd:

I have no recollection when it comes to that. What I do know is that the question that was put to my by your paper yesterday was was it a fundraiser for myself? Was it a fundraiser for Graham Edwards? It was not. Graham Edwards was invited to the dinner. Graham Edwards, in turn, invited me and we attended it and it was a general discussion around the table with a whole bunch of people – 20 or 30 – and I can’t recall, to be blunt, who was there. As you’d appreciate the position I occupied then and now, You’re often at dinners involving large groups of people and I cannot recall precisely who was there.

Journalist:

When you were staying at the Edwards’ house, who initiated that meeting? Did Mr Burke just show up or did Mr Edwards say Mr Burke was coming around, would you like to meet him? And the second meeting over the coffee, were you just out and Mr Burke happened to show up or was he one of the group of friends?

Rudd:

On the first question, which is the breakfast at Graham and Noelene’s house, I have indicated before I often stay there. My recollection is that Graham indicated to me the night before or that morning that Mr Burke was calling around. And that occurred and there was a breakfast and a general discussion. On the second one which goes to the question of coffee, that was a coffee which involved Graham, his wife Noelene, some of their friends. It was at a restaurant somewhere near the beach, not far from their house, I think, and no, Mr Burke was not an accidental drop in, I knew that, from what Graham had said to me, that he would probably drop in.

Journalist:

Mr Rudd, why was it that Graham Edwards, who you’ve described as a close personal friend, was apparently so keen to get you and Mr Burke together like that on three separate occasions? I mean, Graham Edwards is a member of WA Labor Party and would be well aware of the situation of the ban and a range of other factors relating to Mr Burke.

Rudd:

I think it simply goes back to the depth of their long standing personal relationship and if you’
re staying at someone’s house and they say, ‘look, we’re going to have Mr Burke drop around, he’s a long standing personal friend’. It’s an environment where it’s appropriate to (inaudible) appropriate to respond positively.

Journalist:

I’m not talking about your judgement, I’m talking about his. You’re a senior frontbencher at the time and he’s putting you in proximity on three separate occasions with a man that is a convicted criminal and banned.

Rudd:

I don’t intend to blame Graham Edwards at all for any of these matters. I’m just saying if you want a clear explanation as to how this came about is because I’ve been mates with Graham for a long time. He’s a really good bloke and you go and stay at a bloke’s house, this is how it unfolded. Is it an ideal set of circumstances, no. And with the benefit of hindsight would I have done it? No. Did I know that Mr Burke was engaged in activities at the time which are currently the subject of a CCC inquiry? Of course not.

Journalist:

Why didn’t you know instinctively like Stephen Smith to stay away from Brian Burke?

Rudd:

Well, my view was that Mr Burke had committed a crime and had done his time. In my view, that having paid his debt to society it was OK to meet with him. Obviously, that was a misplaced judgement. It was a misplaced judgement based on what we know now.

Journalist:

If you had now idea about all of this and believed it alright to meet him, why on the fourth occasion did you decline his invitation in organising dinner with journalists? I can understand journalist, but was that a judgment you made to keep away from a dinner that Mr Burke was organising?

Rudd:

It was because I thought it was going a step too far if you like. I had met with him by that stage on two or three occasions and this, I think was at the end of ’05 and when the offer came to organise a dinner for me, I think it was a dinner, for me with journalists when I was next in Perth and I heard that arrangements had been put in place to that effect, I became concerned, I thought that was going too far, I made that judgment and as a consequence indicated that I wouldn’t be attending.

Journalist:

(inaudible)

Rudd:

I’ll come back that to that and I’ll answer that, I just want to answer (inaudible)

Journalist:

Graham Edwards is quitting at the next election.

Rudd:

Yeah.

Journalist:

Mark Bishop rather spectacularly quit and then came back, are you convinced that his decision wasn’t as a result of his discussion with Brian Burke?

Rudd:

I take what Senator Bishop has put to me at face value and that is that he had a change of heart over the course of the summer, having had a long holiday I think out of the country, long discussion with his wife about whether in fact he wanted to continue a career in politics. It was as much as a surprise to me as to I think anybody else when Mark changed his mind. I simply took it at face value and said: “well, that’
s a matter for you”.

Journalist:

(Inaudible)

Rudd:

In terms of the nature of the relationship, I’ve got no basis to have any such concern.

Journalist:

He’s broken the ban on meeting with Brian Burke and he changed his decision to come back into politics.

Rudd:

Well I have indicated the action I’ve taken in relation to the discipline of the Whips. As I said after being here yesterday and affirming for the first time the ban on my own part, it was the first to my recollection I’ve been asked about that since being Leader of the Parliamentary Party. I then, prudently, asked the Whips to find out whether in fact the arrangements set in place by Mr Beazley and Tim Gartrell back in November had been upheld – and that’s what we found out. I’ve taken action accordingly.

Journalist:

Why was it okay to have breakfast, coffee and dinner with this guy because he’d done his time and paid his dues, yet it wasn’t okay to meet with him with journalists?

Rudd:

Because he was then offering to do something for me and I felt uncomfortable about that. Having a discussion with someone at a social gathering is one thing, then taking someone’s assistance to organise a meeting with journalists in Western Australia, I though was going too far and I felt uncomfortable about that and you know in this business you make judgments about whether or not that level of assistance is appropriate with a whole range of different of things.

Journalist:

Was there any other occasion in which he offered to do something for you or did do something for you?

Rudd:

No, no, not at all.

Journalist:

In your decisions with Brian Burke was the issue of the Labor Leadership ever discussed or more specifically did he ever make any offer to help (inaudible)

Rudd:

No. And the question is – there was a general chit-chat about politics, as I said we’re talking about a five year – a general chit-chat about.

Journalist:

(Inaudible)

Rudd:

A general chit-chat about politics, national politics, State politics and I have no recollection of the question of Leadership being raised at the time. If fact I don’t seem to recall that was topical at the time.

Journalist:

The simple accusation was that you were in Western Australia to scrounge votes in the upcoming Leadership battle, what’s your response to that accusation?

Rudd:

That is an absolute lie.

Journalist:

Would you be surprised

Rudd:

It’s an absolute lie and I’ve got to say these matters were not being discussed at that stage. I mean Graham Edwards for example, my good friend and the bloke that I was staying with, I mean Graham was a rock solid supporter of the Leadership arrangements in the ALP at that time. So that’s absolutely untrue.

Journalist:

What was your impression of Mr Burke when you met him (inaudible)?

Rudd:

Well it comes to a general conservation about politics, obviously he’s a person who’s seen a lot over the years and so, it was one of a number of people participating in the conservation. I’m being quite blunt with you, the view I took was, and it’s a mistaken view, is a person had committed a crime, they’d done their time and I knew nothing else whatsoever to cause concerns in my mind about their then subsequent activities. I took the judgment that it was okay to meet. With the benefit of hindsight it was the wrong judgment to make. Can I just take this question here.

Journalist:

Why are you making this explanation now, why didn’t you make it Parliament this afternoon?

Rudd:

For a very simple reason, because the Speaker of the Parliament is not in effective control of the place. If you want to actually respond to questions and I’ll stay here as long as you like to answer any question that you’ve got. If you are the Speaker of the Parliament, if you observe the behaviour of the Speaker of the Parliament in the last week, the opportunity to make any point clearly in response to a series of complex questions which arise in this could not be made in there. Certainly, while that Speaker is in the Chair and you’ve seen the determinations made by the Speaker earlier in the week, I have come from the Parliament to my office, told my Press Secretaries to organise this and that is why I’m here. And I said I’ll stay as long as you like to answer any questions you have.

Journalist:

(inaudible) describe Mr Rudd if the function on August 1st 2005 was indeed a fund raiser given that you can’t remember whether you paid or not?

Rudd:

I’ll be absolutely surprised if it was a function of that nature and the reason being is that neither Mr Edwards or myself were told that it could possibly be for those purposes. I understood it was function to which Mr Edwards was going, I was invited and that was that. And certainly, when it comes to fund raising activities as it relates to myself or Mr Edwards – zero.

Journalist:

Was there any suggestion at any stage that it was useful to you in general to meet Mr Burke and in particular did you go to Perth at any point of time with the aim of meeting him?

Rudd:

Absolutely not. This preceded from my friendship with Graham, that’s it, it’s as simple as that, that’s how it happed. Is it desirable that it turned out this way? Of course not – I’m just telling you that as it unfolded. By the way, to answer the question from you about the payment question, because I don’t wish to not answer any question put here today. Often you go to functions with people who come from you know, the business community etcetera and they pay the bill. Who paid in terms of that is concerned, that meal that eveningI cannot recall. But I’m saying there’s nothing unusual about that for any Member of Parliament.

Journalist:

Mr Rudd, did you make an address about China at the dinner and were any of the guests involved in business with mining and resources and links with China at the time?

Rudd:

My recollection of that dinner was there was some general remarks about me, about national politics, about political life in general. I have no particular recollection of raising China whether it was raised in Q&A I can’t recall. But I think you’d appreciate Denis, and I’m answering this as directly as I know how, if you give the large number of speeches that I was giving at the time and attending a large number of functions, you are often asked a whole bunch of different questions. If you were to ask me how many questions I answered that night, on what subjects, what my answer was, I couldn’t tell you. But that is not my recollection.

Journalist:

Could I put to you that whilst the Leadership wasn’t on the boil then, that you’d been engaged in long-term strategy to have yourself known to the far reaches of the Party empire and that you went to Western Australia three or four times in the year for at least in part, that purpose?

Rudd:

No, that is not the case. I had a job as the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, I also had subsequently a job as the Shadow Minster for Trade, the presence of me in the West was because we were receiving general requests from the National Secretary and others to get the message of the Party generally out to every part of the country -and I was doing that. I can’t recall what other functions I was attending at the time, I’m sure there was a number of them. I remember for example on one of these visits, I can’t exactly remember when, being speaking to a whole bunch of students from the University of West Australia . I remember also speaking to a large number of a gathering put together by KPMG in Western Australia. It’s a normal part and parcel of the job at the time. And if I’d been in Western Australia for up to half a dozen times, I don’t how many times I was there, it’s just normal. Ask how many time I’ve been to South Australia, Victoria, I mean frontbenchers in the ALP do that sort of thing and I was doing my job

Journalist:

Two questions, number one, in your general discussions about the state of politics, was there any conversation about the state of the Labor Party and its prospects, and secondly, why in the Parliament did you not ask any questions of the Prime Minister about the Exclusive Brethren or Noel Crichton-Browne. Why did you leave it to Mr Albanese?

Rudd:

On the first question, which relates to the matter concerning the asking of questions in the Parliament, that is a matter of rapid tactical management between the Manager of Opposition Business, myself, the Deputy Manager, the Deputy Leader and these questions concerning the Exclusive Bretheran have been around in our minds for some time. Many newspapers have been raising these concerns about the relationship between the Exclusive Brethren and the Howard Government over quite a number of months and we had made a judgement prior to the events of today to raise these questions because we needed to get to the bottom of the extent of the funding relationship between the Exclusive Brethren and political campaigns conducted in support of the Coalition in various seats. The first question, I’ve forgotten.

Journalist:

The first question was in any of these meetings was there any discussion of the state of the Labor Party and its prospects?

Rudd:

My recollection Jim, it was a general discussion, political chit-chat of the sort that you have the whole time. I have no recollection of there being any particular discussion of the leadership.

Journalist:

In August, November 2005, I think the Latham Diary’s came out, does that jolt your memory because you were front and centre in some of those allegations.

Rudd:

I think my recollection is when the Latham Diaries came out I actually at the UN in New York, because I remember being rung by one of you at about 2 o’clock in the morning to get my response. And being a person who’s always been shy of a camera, if that’s the allegation against me, there was no camera, I then was on AM morning. So in terms of the Latham Diaries, from recollection, whenever the UN General Assembly is, I think it’s September, that’s normally when it is, that was when I was called about it and I responded to questions at the time.

Journalist:

Did Mr Burke in your conversations make any observations about Mr Beazley’s leadership?

Rudd:

Not in my recollection at all and my broad recollection from what Graham Edwards said to me was that Mr Burke had been a consistent strong supported of Mr Beazley’s leadership over a long period of time, as in fact was Mr Edwards himself.

Journalist:

Mr Rudd, in relation to that, the decision you made eventually not to attend the function with the journalists, how did you, did you have a conversation with Mr Burke in relation to that, was there a phone conversation given that we now know that some of his conversations were.

Rudd:

My recollection is that on one visit, one of these gatherings we were just talking about, Mr Burke made that broad offer or suggestion, but then asked me when I next be back and I said some time in December, then my recollection is that I found out that arrangements had been put in place, that’s when I became concerned, that’s when I took action to indicate that I would not be…

Journalist:

Did you find out directly from conversation with Mr Burke?

Rudd:

In terms of the specific arrangements, no I don’t think so, what I do recall is him making that offer, asking me when I next be back and said at a particular juncture in December, I think a second week from memory, but don’t hold me to that, then sometime before that I found out that arrangements had been put in place and as I said before I felt uncomfortable about that.

Journalist:

Why didn’t you refuse immediately when he mentioned the first [inaudible].

Rudd:

Because it’s just a question of politeness, you just, I was actually a bit surprised when it all then took material shape and when it took material shape, what I then did was to indicate that I would not be taking up that offer.

Journalist:

Mr Rudd, can I just confirm, what impact your breakfast, your meeting and coffee with Brian Burke that you were not aware that there was a ban on all WA Labor Cabinets Ministers having any contact with him. Do you agree that you should have known and how and when did you find out that that ban was in place?

Rudd:

Well, you are correct to say that I did know that such a ban existed, secondly, when it comes to my state of knowledge about that, I got to say, as its been explained to me subsequently, I thought its scope was to Members of the WA Parliament who are from the Labor Party and therefore, as explained to me subsequently, didn’t apply to Federal Members. On the actual text of the ban and what Dr Gallop had laid down, obviously Dr Gallop had a correct line on these questions, he understood these things, but I got to say, my understanding, as of today, was that its scope was limited to the WA State Members.

Journalist:

Was this 2005 the first time you’d ever met Brian Burke and suddenly this rush of meetings?

Rudd:

As I said, there are three occasions where we were at the same gathering, I have described what those are and all of those gatherings involved the physical presence of Graham Edwards and I’ve explained how these things came about.

Journalist:

In Graham Edwards introductory remarks before you spoke on the Press 2005, you said it was undoubtable that you’d be Labor’s Prime Minister. That’s your words, do you think, was there any reference to that remark made by Mr Burke or yourself later in the night?

Rudd:

That’s not my recollection, Graham probably said something like, you know, after Mr Beazley is Prime Minister, with whom he was a very dear and close friend, that in his view that some stage down the track I would replace him.

Journalist:

Mr Rudd, any of those three meetings with Mr Burke, or three occasions, did he seek your assistance or guidance or counsel on any of his private clients?

Rudd:

None at all. Lets go to the question of conflict of interest here, which is where all this arises, and sort of proprietary of public behaviour, if anyone out there was to put to me a proposition to somehow use whatever influence I’ve had to give them a leg up in business, you know that’s not the way in which I operate, I just don’t and there was absolutely zero request, had there been any such request, it would have received a zero response. That is non-cooperation.

Journalist:

Given that you have said that there was no request, between August and November is it fair to say that you became suspicious that Mr Burke maybe using your name in relation to organising the dinner, but also influencing people that you were afraid that he may have been using your name to peddle influence?

Rudd:

I became concerned when I heard that he was organising that function and in terms of why I because concerned, I think I said before to a question here, I became concerned because I thought that this was going a step too far and part of that concern was, well, am I being used a bit here? And I formed that judgement, I formed that judgement then, and as I said with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, I would have formed that judgement a lot earlier.

Journalist:

Did you have any new evidence that any of the Libs had dinner with Crichton Browne? That was being alleged in the House today.

Rudd:

No the question being put to the Prime Minister today was just one of clarity. For example, yesterday I was asked did we have a ban in place in relation to contact with the part of the Federal Party with Mr Burke, I said there was and consistent with that I then took some action. Parallel to that, it was appropriate to ask the question in Parliament today of the Government, which is exactly what we did, it was the right thing to do.

Journalist:

Do you think that Labor took too long to impose that ban?

Rudd:

Well actually the ban was imposed, if you look carefully at the statements made by Mr Beazley and Mr Gartrell, back in November last year, when these matters concerning the triple C investigation reached their way into the national media and the statements by Mr Gartrell and Mr Beazley at the time are there on the record, as I said yesterday, it was the first time I was asked about this.

Journalist:

Mr Rudd, since your meetings with Mr Burke has he tried to deliver any information to you by a third party?

Rudd:

Absolutely none, absolutely zero.

Journalist:

… when you terminated the arrangement with dinner with journalists, did you communicate directly with Mr Burke?

Rudd:

I can’t recall whether I did so directly or through his office or whether my office did it, all that I know is that we communicated that it wouldn’t be proceeding.

Journalist:

Do you concede Mr Rudd that this looks bad in the eyes of the public, do you think this will stall your progress in the polls?

Rudd:

Look, the accusation made by Mr Howard was one concerning my honesty, why I’m standing before you here as members of the press today, is to answer any questions that you have about my honesty and my integrity. I reject that accusation in its entirety. Would have it been better with 20/20 hindsight not to have had these things, of course, but we all, sometimes, don’t make the right decisions because we don’t have all the right information available to us.

Journalist:

Why didn’t you tell us all this yesterday Mr Rudd?

Rudd:

Because the question asked me yesterday was about whether or not there was a ban in place, the question asked me yesterday also dealt with my meetings with Mr Burke, I answered that carefully. I’ve to say because those matters have been raised in the Parliament I just doubled checked to make sure that everything that is relevant to this is put before you.

Journalist:

(inaudible) was it clear in your mind that there was a ban from Mr Beazley and Mr Gartrell, that Federal Labor shouldn’t be in contact with him?

Rudd:

My recollection was that there was an arrangement like that in place. In terms of the text of it when it was published and on what date, I wasn’t, I just checked on that after I left the press conference. It was the first occasion on which I was asked, would I have such a ban myself? I answered immediately, and the reason I did so with absolute clarity, was because these matters are now clear in terms of what is now the subject of an investigation before the triple C.

Journalist:

It did sound like it wasn’t quite clear to you if there was a ban.

Rudd:

The only thing that was unclear to me, was when it all happened, I could not recall the dates, I could not recall when Mr Beazley said it or when Mr Gartrell said it on behalf of the organisation.

Journalist:

Did Mark Bishop and Graham Edwards think that the ban finished with Kim Beazley being toppled?

Rudd:

I believe that is a question you should put to them, because their explanation through the whips, is that they made this personal social contact with Mr Burke over the last little while because they believe that this was of an entirely personal nature. Graham’s wife Noelene, Senator Bishop’s wife I understand have a long standing, decades long personal relationship with Mrs Burke.

Some of these greetings concerned, as I understand it, Mr Burke’s birthday and Christmas. So that is what they have said, not withstanding that, the Whips have disciplined both of them, and that has been subsequent to my discovery.

Journalist:

Mr Rudd the Government’s attack, as well as going to your honesty, I think is going to your judgement, do you concede now that it what an error of judgement at the time, not an error of judgement with 20-20 hindsight, but an error of judgment at the time?

Rudd:

I think, as I said, with the benefit of hindsight, you wouldn’t do this. Something we do things out of friendship and politeness and all those sorts of things which would perhaps had better not been done. But what I am saying absolutely is that, with the benefit of that hindsight, I would have not had these meetings.

Journalist:

Is Mr Burke an intimidating figure?

Rudd:

Who’s that?

Journalist:

Mr Burke.

Rudd:

He strikes me as a person, his conversations on – no, not at all is the answer to that question, but he is a person who has a range of interesting view on politics and expresses them. As I’ve said, I’ve not met the individual before, to the best of my knowledge, unless there was some chance meeting 20 years ago somewhere, but I’m not aware of it. And I’m saying therefore, that the conversations were of a general political nature.

Journalist:

The West Australian newspaper today editorialised saying that the WA Government has now been rendered dysfunctional and they should go to the polls and let the voters have a say, do you have a view on that?

Rudd:

That’s a judgment for the WA Premier. In terms of the actual transcripts which have come out concerning the CCC Inquiry, I’ve not got all those things before me, I don’t know what has come out. Mr Carpenter, I think, has handled this appropriately up until now.

Journalist:

You were saying that the Whips have counselled Mr Edwards and Senator Bishop, what do you mean by that?

Rudd:

They have indicated them in strong and direct terms these contacts should not have occurred and that any future contacts should not occur. I’ve been advised by the Whips they have agreed.

Journalist:

What happens if future contact occurs?

Rudd:

Well, then action of a more severe nature would occur but we would cross that bridge if we came to it. Any further questions?

Journalist:

Did you have the sense that Mr Burke saw himself as a powerbroker when he was talking to you?

Rudd:

I saw him as someone just as a big, deep abiding interest in politics. He just likes talking about politics all the time. As I said, my view, naively at the time, was that if a person had done the crime and had done their time, paid their debt to society, (inaudible) and at that stage as Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs I thought that was OK. I was not aware that Mr Burke was at that time engaged it seems, or around about that time, depending on what is determined by the CCC, but engaged in activities that subsequently became subject of an investigation by that body.

Journalist:

(inaudible) experience of what Paul Keating used to call the blowtorch of Question Time. Do you think you might have got to this point. You’ve had a reasonably easy honeymoon. How do you think you’re going to handle the pressure if Costello and the boys continue to sort of pressure you like this?

Rudd:

Well, when it comes to the last few weeks in Parliament, I think it’s been a fairly decided negative attack from the Government generally. I mean, we had Mr Abbott out there whacking me on my religion every other day, whether I’m Catholic or Protestant, and whether I’m Christian or Socialist. This has been rolling on for weeks about myself. According to him, I’ve been responsible for every event which occurred in the State of Queensland between the 2nd December 1989 up until some stage in 1999. I think there has been a consistent tone to Question Time and they have been rolling stuff at me, rolling hand grenades. That’s politics. I don’t complain about that. That’s just as it is. This is part of a continuation of that. And in terms of the attack today, it went, however, to the question of my honesty and that is why I’m here. As I said, I’m happy to answer any questions.

Journalist:

Do you think Mr Howard was dishonest in his relationship with Mr Walker over the nuclear energy question?

Rudd:

I was asked that yesterday and what I said our job in Parliament was yesterday, or the day before when we began this series of questions, was just to find out a few facts. The matter had been on the front page of a journal of repute – the Herald Sun in Melbourne – and therefore we had an obligation to find out the facts behind that. Why did this turn into a story? Because the Industry Minister sat there for seven sets of questions and stonewalled and didn’t give us basic facts. Had he simply said I’m the Industry Minister, I meet with a whole bunch of people, including these people who have interests in the nuclear industry and in no way did that materially affect the subsequent commissioning of the Switkowski Report, it would have been all over red rover. But if you have an Industry Minister who sits there and tries to stonewall in the best traditions of Bill Laurie and hope that it’ll all just go away, then frankly, we’ve got an obligation in Parliament to establish the truth. And based on what we’ve seen so far, I don’t have a case against Mr Walker or Mr Howard, but I’ve got to say we probably still have some more questions to ask and we’ll be asking them. That’s our job.

Journalist:

Mr Rudd, what about the relationship between the Exclusive Brethren and Mr Howard, or the assistance which is implicit in the question that was made today that the Exclusive Brethren has given Mr Howard’s campaign and other campaigns for the Howard Government?

Rudd:

Well, my concern about the Exclusive Brethren, I’ve been asked about this before, is this. It goes actually to the nature of the schools that they run. It goes to the nature of the schools that they run where, for example, part of their policies is not a proper provision of information technology and computers, and access to IT based learning, as you would normally get in a State system, a Catholic system or the rest of the Independent system, I’m worried about that. I’ve said that on the record before. I’m worried, therefore, about how funding continued to flow to schools like that where those sorts of restrictions exist. I’m also worried about the impact which the Exclusive Brethren have had on the break up of families right across this country. You can take it from my remarks I’m no particular fan of theirs. It is a matter of record that the Exclusive Brethren funded campaigns on behalf, or in support of, the Coalition at the last federal election. These are legitimate questions for us to ask in the Parliament in terms of the proximity of the relationship between that organisation, given they are a significant beneficiaries of federal funding and on the other hand, the nature of their political campaign activity which has been a direct support of one side of politics. These are legitimate questions to ask. They go to a matter of public policy and therefore we had a responsibility to ask and we had planned to start raising these questions today anyway. Any other questions?

Journalist:

One of your colleagues was rebuked by the Speaker for his attitude to the Chair inside Parliament and outside Parliament. Now, You’ve had a fairly full on go at the Speaker today. Are you expecting any sort of similar rebuke yourself?

Rudd:

That’s a matter for the Speaker. My single request to the Speaker is that he impartially uphold the Standing Orders. That’s a matter for the Speaker. Any other questions? Thanks for your time.