Gareth Evans has previously denied the Cheryl Kernot affair in Parliament as Hillary Bray explains.

That made it rather unusual one Thursday, just before Parliament rose for the week, Liberal backbencher Don Randall got to his feet to deliver this speech:

Title: ADJOURNMENT: Kernot, Ms Cheryl

Date: 12 March 1998

Speaker: Randall, Don, MP (Swan, LP, Government)

Interjector: PYNE; WORTH

Mr RANDALL (Swan)(5.40 p.m.) I would like to point out tonight that Labor’s newest recruit, Cheryl Kernot, intends to be in my electorate next Monday and Tuesday. I would like to take this opportunity to point out a number of things about the would-be member for Dickson, who I believe has no hope of winning. The people of Swan should know about this pin-up girl from the ALP. Laurie Oakes described her as a `demo-rat’. I thought the Labor Party did not like rats, but she is described well and truly in this arenaI do not have notes here, Mr Speaker, just a few pointsas a `demo-rat’.

Can you believe her? Can you believe anything that Cheryl Kernot says? What I want to say is that, during the South Australian election campaign, she was running around saying, `You’ve got to support the Democrats, they’re the only party that will keep the bastards honest,’ and this sort of thing. We know that is the mantra that she was using. But what did she do one week later? After all those election ads, et cetera, she joined the Labor Party. Arm in arm, she joined the Labor Party. Can you honestly believe this woman? She misled the South Australian people. She misled the Australian people.

Mr Pyne Not for the first time.

Mr RANDALL Absolutely, it was not for the first time.

Ms Worth And only 30 people turned up to hear her speak in Adelaide.

Mr RANDALL Yes. She is a dishonest person. I must move on because I have a fair bit to say about this duplicitous, disingenuous person called Cheryl Kernot. I would like to point out also that this person has said she is going to shift into the electorate of Dickson. She has not shifted into the electorate of Dickson. She has not bought a house there. She went to rent a house and a truck went through it, so then she said she was off to rent somewhere else.

My information is that she may have rented a place there, but she does not live there. I am reliably informed that she lives in an inner city penthouse in Brisbane called Admiralty Towers. This is a great commitment to the people of Dickson, isn’t it? She will go and be their member, but she will not live in their electorate. She is not going to live in a nice little house in the electorate; she is going to live in a penthouse.

This is the sort of person who would represent the workers of Australia, according to the Labor Party. This is the sort of disingenuous, dishonest behaviour that you are getting from a would-be Labor Party member of parliament. She is a member of the Labor Party, but she is certainly not a member of parliament and, in my opinion, she will not get that four per centshe’s got Buckley’s.

Let us also talk about another one of her great qualitiesbecause you cannot believe her. Where is her loyalty? She certainly had no loyalty to her staff. When she went, what did she do? She did not tell them. She told the Labor Party. She sat around with Gareth, Kim and these sorts of people telling them that she loved them, wanted to join them and wanted to nurture them. But her own staff found out via the media. Not only that, one of her staff, I am told, was lying on the beach on maternity leave and she was shocked because she found out that the job she intended to return to was not there any more. That was the way she found out. I also happen to know that some of these people have mortgages to paybut there was no job the next day. They have mortgages to pay. They have feelings. They had been loyal to her, and she had not returned the loyalty.

How about her loyalty to the ALP? She went down to the conference in Hobart. She claimed compliments for the resurrection of the ALP. She was this marvellous person who she wanted to hold up in shining light as the person who had got the ALP resurrected in the polls, but Kim and the heavies came in and told her that she could not do that.

I was a teacher and I can assure you, Mr Speaker, that if I had had an affair with someone 10 years younger than me I would have been in trouble. I can tell you it should apply equally, because it seems to be okay for a female to have an affair with a younger person but for a male it is taboo. Does this affection extend to the member for Holt (Mr Gareth Evans), we often wonder. Is she honest? She is about as honest as Christopher Skase and Nick Bolkus, she is about as loyal as Benedict Arnold and she has the morals of an alley cat on heat. The people of Swan and Dickson should be aware of the real Cheryl Kernot and reject her. (Time expired)

A suitable degree of shocked, self-righteous tut-tutting followed from our moral arbiters so when Parliament resumed, the first item on the agenda was an apology from Randall:

Title: KERNOT, MS C.

Date: 23 March 1998

Database: House Hansard

Speaker: Randall, Don, MP (Swan, LP, Government)

Mr RANDALL (Swan)(12.31 p.m.) I wish to seek your indulgence, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER Indulgence is granted.

Mr RANDALL In the adjournment debate on 12 March I made statements in this House regarding the member for Holt (Mr Gareth Evans) and Ms Cheryl Kernot which were not correct and which were personally offensive to them. I wish to confirm and restate my unreserved apology in this House to both Ms Kernot and the member for Holt, and to the other members of this House for my statement.

Now it was time for Gareth Evans to have his say as a party to the case, so to speak,:

Title: KERNOT, MS C.

Date: 23 March 1998

Database: House Hansard

Speaker: Evans, Gareth, MP (Holt, ALP)

Mr GARETH EVANS (HoltDeputy Leader of the Opposition)(12.32 p.m.) I seek your indulgence, Mr Speaker, to make a short statement on the same subject.

Mr SPEAKER Indulgence is granted.

Mr GARETH EVANS The ugly and untrue words used under cover of privilege by the member for Swan (Mr Randall) to directly attack Cheryl Kernot, and by innuendo to pervert the nature of my friendship with her, have had their effect. They have been repeated hundreds of times already in the print and electronic media and no doubt will be repeated many times more.

Although roundly condemned by nearly every commentator in the country, they have also been repeated by every commentator in the country. They have acquired the currency that muck always acquires. Nothing I said at the time or could say again now can possibly redress that balance. But let me at least put on the parliamentary record the few simple, and I hope very clear, words that I have already put on the public record, namely just these: what the member for Swan said was totally baseless, beneath contempt and a disgraceful abuse of parliamentary privilege. It takes more than an apology to heal the hurt, particularly to our families, that this sort of performance causes.

Mr Speaker, this has been a very sorry incident, not only for Cheryl Kernot, me and our respective families, but for the standing and credibility of this Australian parliament. I have experienced or heard nothing like it in my 20 years in this parliament and I hope that no-one else has to experience anything like it ever again.

Now, the question is being asked was that true? Did he mislead the House? That’s a serious offence as a former senior minister like Gareth Evans would be well aware.

PM knew nothing

Whatever the case, the Prime Minister had to be distanced from things, so one of his more minor minions put his usual “I know nothing” down for the record.

Title: KERNOT, MS C.

Date: 23 March 1998

Database: House Hansard

Speaker: Worth, Trish, MP (Adelaide, LP, Government)

Ms WORTH (AdelaideParliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Health and Family Services)(12.35 p.m.) I seek your indulgence very briefly, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER Indulgence is granted.

Ms WORTH I was in the chamber on the night that the member for Swan (Mr Randall) made these comments and was suitably offended. I have spoken briefly with the member for Swan since. He has confirmed with me that he acted entirely alone; the exact words he used were that the criticisms that he has received since were self-inflicted. I would like to place on the parliamentary record that the government from the Prime Minister (Mr Howard) down Opposition members Where are they?

Mr SPEAKER The honourable member for Adelaide has the call.

Ms WORTH I am putting on the parliamentary record, Mr Speaker, that every member of the government from the Prime Minister down has dissociated themselves from the comments of the member for Swan.

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