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Tuesday, 6 December 1983
Page: 3299


Mr BEAZLEY (Special Minister of State) —by leave-On 28 March 1983 the terms of reference of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drug Trafficking were extended to allow the Royal Commissioner, Mr Justice Stewart, to inquire into the activities of the Nugan Hand Group of companies and related matters. The Commissioner has now reported to the Government on three of the terms of reference contained in the Letters Patent issued by the Governor-General on that date, and this is the report I am now tabling. Honourable members will recall that serious allegations had been raised concerning members of this Parliament and relating to alleged interference in Commonwealth investigations and wrongful use of an ex-officio indictment. The Royal Commission has inquired into these allegations and found them to be without basis. The first term of reference on which the Commissioner has reported is:

(e) Whether any person, organisation or body associated with the Nugan Hand Group directly or indirectly made or offered any payment or inducement for, or in connection with, or endeavoured by means of a threat to procure, the disclosure by any Commonwealth officer or any person who was formerly a Commonwealth officer of information relating to an investigation by an Australian law enforcement body into any activity referred to in paragraph (a) or (b);

That is, relating to possible illegal activities by the Nugan Hand Group. The Commissioner's response to this question is no. The second term of reference on which the Commissioner has reported is:

(f) Whether any person, organisation or body associated with the Nugan Hand Group procured or received, directly or indirectly, from any Commonwealth officer or any person who was formerly a Commonwealth officer information relating to an investigation by an Australian law enforcement body into any activity referred to in paragraph (a) or (b);

The Commissioner's response to this question is:

'Yes, Mr F. J. Nugan received confidential information relating to the investigation indirectly from a Commonwealth officer, namely Philip Ambrose Bailey as a result of an approach by Mr Garry Allen in Hong Kong in about November 1977 to an employee of Mr F. J. Nugan to whom the confidential information was passed and who in turn conveyed that information to Mr F. J. Nugan.'

Mr Bailey was an investigator in the Sydney office of the Federal Narcotics Bureau from 1973 until the Bureau was abolished in 1979. I am advised that he ceased to be an employee of the Commonwealth early in 1981. The third term of reference on which the Commissioner has reported is:

(g) whether any person, organisation or body improperly interfered with, inhibited or endeavoured to interfere with or inhibit any investigation by an Australian law enforcement body into any activity referred to in paragraph (a) or (b).

The Commissioner's response to this question is no. The report does not contain recommendations for further action on any of these matters.

The Commission found that the substance of the allegations against members of this House all came from the one person concerning whose credibility 'the Commission entertains serious doubts'. It is the Commission's opinion that there is no credible evidence to support these allegations and the Commission is of the view that the allegations are 'quite unjustified and false'. As to allegations of intimidation by the then Attorney-General, the Commission found that '. . . there is no substance in (the) assertion that the . . . Attorney- General . . . acted maliciously in filing an ex-officio indictment in respect of Mr Volkman in 1982'.

The matters that were referred to the Royal Commission were of public concern. Following the Commission's investigation of those matters and its report, that concern can now be put to rest. In accordance with the Commissioner's recommendation, one page of the report containing information on the identity of two confidential witnesses has been deleted from the report as tabled. In addition, following consultation with the Commissioner and with his agreement, Appendix K and certain other matters-mostly the names of individuals and companies-have been deleted from the appendices in the report as tabled. None of the matters deleted relate, in themselves, to the matters under consideration in the report.

Finally I inform honourable members that a copy of the Commissioner's report has been sent to the Premier of New South Wales for his information. The Government presently has under consideration, in consultation with the Government of New South Wales, the question of an extension of time beyond 31 December 1983 for Mr Justice Stewart to complete his inquiries into the remaining terms of reference.