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Almost A Member of the CIA

Second Reading
Members LEIGH Date28 May 2002 Page1703

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Is this government fair dinkum about fare evasion? In my view it is not. Why is this so? Let me tell the house about a gentleman by the name of Mr Lev Lafayette, who is actually part of the Victorian ALP. This guy is the no. 1 fare evader in the state of Victoria.

I have not read all the evidence, but in my view he was really stretching it in saying what he said about the system when he applied for a Magistrates Court ruling. The magistrate decided that he had done nothing wrong -- I am not going to pick on the magistrate; that's fine - but all the companies concerned were outraged by his ruling and wanted the minister to take action. I quote from the Herald Sun of 7 March 2002:

Lev Lafayette, who won a court battle despite travelling without a valid ticket, operates the ALP's web site. He has also been active in the party's left-wing Pledge faction -- which the honourable member for Coburg is well acquainted with -- [which is] known for its opposition to privatised transport.

The embarrassing disclosure came as transport minister Peter Batchelor said the government would seriously consider appealing against the court's decision.

If an appeal fails, Victoria's ticketing system could be thrown into chaos, with commuters being able to use the same excuse as Mr Lafayette for travelling without a ticket.


Mr Batchelor said he was not embarrassed that Mr Lafayette had strong Labor Party links.

It might be an embarrassment for the Labor Party', he said.

'I don't care who he is, or where he works'.

That is commendable.

'He was riding a tram without a ticket and was issued with a fine, but he got no special treatment at all'.

The case has the private transport operators worried. It follows huge debts and a $91 million bail out from -- and so forth. I will tell the house what was not revealed at the time but was instead uncovered a little later. The spin doctors in the Premier's office, perhaps better described as the Ministry of Truth, were out there spinning documents -- and you only have to look up the web site to know that what I am saying is accurate. Who does Mr Lafayette really work for?

Is it the honourable member for Coburg? No, I don't think so. Is it the honourable member for Geelong? No, I don't think so. Is it the honourable member for Northcote? No, I don't think so. Mr Lafayette works for none other than that great god-like creature, the Honourable Steve Bracks, Premier of Victoria. He is the Premier's second electorate officer. So the chief fare dodger in the state of Victoria is employed by the Premier to operate the ALP web site, presumably out of the Premier's electorate office. I have actually seen him walking around Parliament House. What do those great spin doctors in the Labor Party say?

The state government confirmed today that Lev Lafayette was part of a pool of parliamentary staffers.

'He is one of those people ... they are used by MPs or by their parties at various times for different things'.

He sounds like he is almost a member of the CIA! But what is he? He is Premier Bracks second electorate officer. What does that say to Victorians? It says there are thieves cheating the public transport system of $50 million a year. The Minister for Transport, Mr Batchelor, said, 'This is an outrage. I am going to deal with him'. He had a different view back in the 1980s when he was doing something similar himself in another area. Leaving that aside, we have to say that at least the minister was right this time in saying, 'I don't care who he works for'. Then he said, 'Oops, he works for the Premier. I'd better be careful here; I'm not going to do too much after this'. What a standard for the administration to set, having the chief fare dodger working for the Premier!

In all honesty I would say to people, 'Next time you look at the web site of the Victorian ALP, remember that it has been done by the chief fare dodger of the state of Victoria!'.

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