I commend Tasmanian Labor leader Rebecca White for her open-mindedness about the possibility of a Commission of Inquiry into the allegations of bribery of former Tasmanian Deputy Premier Kevin Lyons in 1972.
And I roundly condemn the Liberal Party for ruling out such an inquiry. Clearly there’s something more important to them these days than finding out why a previous Liberal government was toppled in bizarre circumstances.
Yes, suspect criminal behaviour is a matter for the police. But some of this is beyond the remit of police and only a Commission of Inquiry will have the power to explore broader wrongdoing and give protection to the witnesses that are still alive.
Surely Tasmania Police will now move quickly to fully investigate this matter. We know for a fact that Mr Lyons resigned unexpectedly, bringing down the Bethune Liberal Government and causing the re-election of a Reece Labor Government, which materially benefited Federal Hotels who finally secured a monopoly casino licence. It’s also a fact that Mr Lyons was loaned money by gambling interests, did property deals with gambling interests, was advanced $25,000 for a book that was never published and worked for Federal Hotels after he left the Parliament. And now we have a whistleblower who recounts delivering a locked suitcase to an address in Sandy Bay just two days before Mr Lyons’ resignation.
The Kevin Lyons matter is as relevant to Tasmania today as it was back then. The events of 1972 resulted in Federal Hotels being awarded the monopoly casino licence which it enjoys to this very day. The allegations must be thoroughly investigated so that the surviving players can either clear their name or be brought to account.