Chapter 29 ......Cooke Inquiry and Daikyo
One morning about 7am an old member of the organisation rang me from Brisbane. I had not heard from him for sometime and was pleased to in this instance. George was one of those serious-minded people a retired school teacher who was sufficiently interested in coming down from Brisbane each month to help with our mission. I liked George and in a way I often feel as though it is people such as he that I have let down, because we were not able to achieve our objective of effecting Constitutional change.
After the exchange of greetings George asked me if I had seen ‘this mornings Australian’.
No I had not.
“You’ve been named in the Cooke Enquiry.” When George read the content of the article I felt physically ill. Given prominence on page four of the Australian, the report ran under the headline; Union leader in mission to ‘dig up dirt’.
“I (Barry Lawrence) was to dig up dirt on Mr Whiteside to see whether he ‘liked little boys, or played up on his wife”. The report then went on that the information was then going to be supplied to the Daikyo Corporation, were Etterick said that he had a very good contact. That contact turned out to be a Mr Garth Keppi. I was never able to establish who this Garth Keppi was, but I was later informed that a Queens counsel by the name of Garth Kepple, would most likely have been the contact, referred to.
These reports appeared in the Queensland Newspaper editions of the Courier-Mail and the Australian. Given the fact that both newspapers saw fit to publish this facet of the Cooke Inquiry proceedings, thereby acknowledging the significance of my impact on Daikyo, I have often wondered why, they did not approach me for comment. As I saw it, this was a scurrilous attack upon an ordinary citizen, yet neither paper sought to expand upon the allegations. Was this done to allow the innuendo of slur to stick; thus establishing some doubt about my credibility? Since the newspapers were prepared to leave this matter of digging dirt’ alone, I immediately approached the Commission of Inquiry, who duly forwarded to me the section of the transcript, that involved the reference to me. Reading through the transcript , I have to believe that the link between what the Liquor Trades Union tried to achieve and what Daikyo’s involvement might have been, seemed a little obscure. From the way I initially read it, it appeared as though the Union had initiated action in a plan to obtain evidence that could incriminate ‘Bruce Whiteside’, that would be passed onto Daikyo, thereby preparing favourable ground so that they would be amenable to granting union membership in their hotels. In a word ingratiation. Was this a clumsy attempt to ameliorate relationships, so that Daikyo would look on the union as helpful, or was it part of a wider plan that involved both union and company. Who was this man Garth Keppi. What was his connection with Daikyo, if any? If these were questions that begged answers, then neither the union or Daikyo were about to shed any light. Nor were the newspapers interested. Given the possible ramifications of a blood-hounded ‘Chris Masters or Phil Dickie’ pursuing the story, that may have exposed some unsavoury aspects of the Labour Party associated unions and the ‘cordial’ relationship that now existed between the Goss Government and the top end of town, particularly, since it had it’s hands slapped in Cairns, the chances of ‘this Whiteside thing’ being followed up, was nil. Politics I believed stood in the road of justice. The real crux of this sordid plot by the Liquor Trades Union, was that it was prepared to crucify an ordinary Australian citizen to a foreign company, in this case Daikyo, to further its own miserable objectives. It was quite happy to drag Whiteside, into the gutter of its own making, to obtain union membership within Daikyo’s hotel framework. How far was the union prepared to go to obtain the evidence that it had specifically sought? In an environment, that incubates very quickly any suggestion of impropriety, the rejection of this sort of smear can be nigh impossible. Only the target can be adamant about the truth or untruth of such innuendo, yet given that their ‘mission ‘ would have been totally fruitless, the intent to follow that path could also have provided instruction to resort to fabrication. At the time, the Cooke Enquiry still in train was some way off handing down its findings to the Government. I was concerned that a trade union could actually target an Australian citizen to the point were I spoke with a senior detective of the CIB at Broadbeach. At his request and concern also I might add, that I supplied a copy of this partial transcript that he forwarded to a higher authority. To this day I have no knowledge of how far that document went, but I do know that I heard no more about it.
When Commissioner Marshall Cooke handed down his finding , most of the recommendations were shelved. Despite embracing the Fitzgerald Inquiry with zeal, that tended to ‘expose’ the waywardness of the conservative forces in State politics, the Goss Labor Government were not about to ‘adopt the recommendations of the Inquiry. After all, it had been recently elected with a healthy majority and it could afford to ride out any suggestion of looking after its own. Two aspects of this affair should have been followed up. The union should have been brought to heel for this unsavoury action that was instigated at executive level. The other matter of possible collusion by a foreign company, should have been investigated.
In the scheme of things Bruce Whiteside is a very small cog, but had that cog been a member of government or a high profile businessman, then the question is, would that revelation have been allowed to die. I don’t believe it would have. There's no place in a democracy for unequal standards. It ultimately leads to insurrection and the break down of what we valued andt take for granted.