Bid to smear Libs backfires
Bid to smear Libs backfires

Labor's shadow minister for multicultural interests Margaret Quirk has been forced into an embarrassing apology in State Parliament after she wrongly linked two Liberal MPs to the alleged crime family at the centre of raids at a Carabooda market gardening business.

In Parliament last month, Ms Quirk drew attention to a 2010 article in a northern suburbs newspaper that featured a picture of Wanneroo Liberal Paul Miles, then multicultural interests minister John Castrilli and cucumber grower and Vietnamese Farmers Association president Thang Van Le, of Gnangara.

Ms Quirk told Parliament that Mr Le was "since deceased" and the same Thang Van Le who was the patriarch of the family at the centre of last month's raids.

But he is not. It was a case of mistaken identity and Mr Le, of Gnangara, who is very much alive and well, has no connection with the alleged criminal family whose business is 15km away.

Compounding the embarrassment for Ms Quirk, Mr Le told _The West Australian _he had met Ms Quirk "six or seven times" including in her electorate office.

Yesterday, Ms Quirk acknowledged she was trying to link Mr Miles and Mr Castrilli to criminal activity when she made a speech on the evening of May 15 asking Mr Miles what "due diligence" he had done before backing Mr Le's call for more seasonal workers from Vietnam and China to be allowed into the country.

In her speech, she also asked Mr Miles if he or the Liberal Party had received any campaign donations from Mr Le.

"My constituent, Mr Thang Le of Gnangara is alive and well," Mr Miles told Parliament late on Tuesday.

"He has nothing to do with the Le family of Carabooda or the Le family in Neerabup.

"They are not even part of the same Vietnamese community or group."

An hour later, Ms Quirk told Parliament she "unequivocally apologised" for the error.

"I did make inquiries of some people in the industry but these things happen," she said yesterday.

"I've been in the Parliament 13 years.

"I'm very careful with my facts and I'm just very sad that it was incorrect."

The West Australian

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