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Thursday, 7 May 1970

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - It is rather amazing that the debate this morning has been carried on following the remarks of the honourable member for Boothby (Mr McLeay). He said that the contribution of the Australian Labor Party to the Moratorium Campaign was only assisting the Vietcong. Not one member of the Opposition has effectively refuted bis contribution.

I have just 10 minutes to deliver this speech on a subject which I sincerely believe is worthy of far more time, but I hope my remarks on the legal and social implications of the tape recording of telephone conversations will arouse such interest throughout the nation that this occasion will mark just the beginning of discussion of this subject. I remind the House of the case of the late Alderman C. G. Penridge, the then Mayor of Cairns, when approximately 15 months ago he was convicted on a charge of soliciting from an estate agent a sum of money and a commission in the event of the sale of a building to the Cairns City Council. The conviction was made following the Stipendiary Magistrate's decision to admit a recording of an alleged telephone conversation purporting to be a record of a discussion between the Mayor and the estate agent. Frankly, I am not at all interested in the fact that it was a cheap tape recorder and some parts of the recording were inaudible; there is a far greater principle involved.

Some time after his conviction Alderman Penridge, whom 1 had never spoken to or met previously in my life, rang me at my home in Brisbane from Cairns. He said that he was aware of my public utterances on the subject of civil freedom and asked if I would help him. When I asked why he had not appealed against the decision, he said he did not do so because he was too sick. I clearly recall saying to him that it was not for me to judge his guilt or otherwise but I would, on his behalf, examine the whole question of the admissibility of taped telephone conversations as Court evidence. Within a month of our conversation he died but as far as I am concerned his case is very much alive, as I have assured his widow and daughter since the time of his passing. Nevertheless, for the first time in the history of Queensland, and probably Australia a tape recorded conversation had been used in evidence in criminal proceedings.

The stage having been set, the following events are not surprising. On Monday, 1st December 1969, a . letter appeared in the

People's Forum section of the Brisbane Telegraph' from a Mr Des Ney Ian, Secretary of the Liberal Civic Party - incidentally, a political party having no connection whatever with the Liberal Party. In this published letter, Mr Neyland stated:

For the information of the CMO - That is another political party:

I regarded the approaches to me as so vital that I recorded the telephone conversation on tape and will be happy to play it back to the CMO should they desire.

Those who were here in the last Parliament can well imagine how 1 reacted to this. But 1 held my ground and waited a fortnight for a public outcry. Not a word of protest was raised even though there was a statement in black and white - in all probability innocently written - admitting to an infringement upon the rights of the individual. 1 wrote to the Postmaster-General prior to leaving for central and north America on a private trip.

Mr Brown - Did you pay your own way?

Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - I paid my own way, yes. I drew the attention of the Postmaster-General to my opposition to the happenings in the Penridge case and also to Mr Neylan's admission in the Brisbane 'Telegraph'. With the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard Mr Neylan's letter.

The CMO president, Mr Barnes, claims in the Telegraph (19.11.69) that no approach has been made to the LCP to unite with the CMO. Once again, I must defend the LCP and state the facts.

On several occasions, over the past few weeks, a person approached me by telephone asking me to rejoin the CMO and to bring the LCP with me.

I was also told that if I did not co-operate and join the CMO then the LCP and myself would be destroyed and would face political extinction.

Naturally I do not bow to threats of this nature and the LCP, I hope, can continue as the third municipal party in Brisbane, and will be able to overcome the present proposed threat.

For the information of the CMO I regarded the approaches to me as so vital that 1 recorded the telephone conversation on tape, and will be happy to play it back to the CMO should they desire.

I would also like to correct 1 other item. The main reason for the formation of the LCP was not over the method of selecting candidates: this was but 1 of 6 reasons. The main reason was the failure of the CMO to provide an effective opposition to the A.L.P., and that the CMO did not wish to win but merely take the easy way out and remain the opposition. I am still informed that this idea is still being adopted - gain a few seats in 1970 and win in 1973, when it is hoped that Aid. Jones will retire.

Our dispute with the CMO over candidates in 1967 is quite justified when the results of a selection of candidates can be known 3 days prior to the selection meeting taking place.

Finally I wish to point out to the CMO that the same CMO member who approached me recently to 'have peace talks with the CMO* actually contacted me 6 months ago for another reason, to become the LCP Lord Mayoral candidate. I was unaware of his CMO affiliations at that time, and fortunately we did not accept. - Des Neylan, Secretary, Liberal Civic Party.

Also with the concurrence of honourable members, I incorporate my letter to the Postmaster-General.

December 15th, 1969. The Honourable A. S. Hulme, M.P., Postmaster-General, G.P.O., BRISBANE. My Dear Minister,

For some time I have been worried by the apparent increase in instances of telephone conversations being recorded without the knowledge of the other party.

You will remember that (he late Alderman G. G. Penridge - the then Mayor of Cairns - was convicted following an alleged recorded conversation. I. am still greatly disturbed, by the fact that your Department took no action against the person who recorded the alleged conversation, and allowed the recording to be used as Court evidence.

Following speeches and questions in Parliament, my views on the intrusion into the private life of individuals have been reported in the Press. It was shortly after his conviction that Alderman Penridge contacted me, as be apparently knew of my interest.

A little time after that unsolicited telephone conversation, and my promise to Alderman Penridge that when the time was ripe I would move on his behalf, he died. That happening has not changed my attitude. It is not of my concern whether Alderman Penridge was guilty or not guilty, but the method of his conviction is a principle I am not prepared to see sacrificed. 1 have assured his Widow and Daughter of my determination to fight this prostitution of a basic freedom.

On Monday, the 1st December, in the "Brisbane Telegraph", the column "Letters to the Editor" carried a communication from a Mr. Des. Neylan of the so-called Liberal Civic Party. I have watched for two weeks to see whether or not there would be public reaction to the statement, following his frank admission that he had recorded a telephone conversation. 1 sincerely hope that this matter has been brought to your attention, because it too is in contravention of the Act. 1 have known Mr. Neylan for a number of years and have no personal desire to bring harm to him. In fact, 1 often admire his efforts in assisting aged people and those in need. But I am of the firm opinion that your Department has no alternative, in the event of the recording having been made without the other party's knowledge, of taking action against him. 1 am further of the belief that Alderman Penridge was wrongly convicted by virtue of the nature of the evidence brought against him.

In seeking your views of the above mentioned, I assure you that when it comes to the matter of the infringement upon the privacy of individuals, I will go to any length to stop bureaucracy and officialdom, even though when it comes to national security, I have that issue in correct perspective also.

Yours sincerely, (D. M. CAMERON, M.P.)

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