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Thursday, 6 October 1983
Page: 1443


Mrs KELLY —Will the Prime Minister confirm that he has complete confidence in the integrity of Commissioner Grey and the Australian Federal Police?


Mr Sinclair —That point has never been in question.


Mr HAWKE —I am indebted to the honourable member for Canberra for her question, but not as much as I am indebted to the honourable member opposite who interjected that that has never been in question. Mr Speaker, I remind you and the House of the question asked by the Leader of the Opposition in this place on Tuesday, 4 October. The Leader of the Opposition had this to say:

My question is addressed to the Special Minister of State. Did the Australian Federal Police recently detect, by use of telephone taps, the payment of moneys to people in authority in New South Wales to ensure the early release of prisoners? When this was reported, did the New South Wales Government ask the Federal Government to stop the telephone tapping? Did the Federal Government accede to that request and did the telephone tapping cease? Was action subsequently taken to reinstate the telephone taps, but not at the specific request of the Federal Government or the New South Wales Government?

Let members of the Opposition and the Leader of the Opposition himself face up to the fact which is recognised by everyone in this country that, of course, the Leader of the Opposition deliberately impugned the integrity of the Federal Police.

I ask a simple question: Is it possible for the Prime Minister, the Special Minister of State or the Attorney-General to take off taps? The Leader of the Opposition knows that, under the legislation of his Government, not mine, the only person who can authorise the taking off of taps is the Commissioner of Police. The Leader of the Opposition's question, therefore, inevitably as a matter of logic, means that he is saying that the Commissioner of the Federal Police would be a party to pressure from either the Federal or the New South Wales State Government or both in having telephone taps taken off. His question was: Did it happen? It could happen only in circumstances where the Commissioner of the Federal Police was party to pressure either from the Federal Government, the State Government or both.

I know that every reasonable person in this country will be nothing less than appalled by this attack by the Leader of the Opposition-propped up as he is each day in his tactics by those who sit behind him-upon the integrity of the the Commissioner of the Federal Police and members of the police. I was so appalled that I made arrangements yesterday for the Leader of the Opposition to meet in my office with the Commissioner of the Federal Police, Commissioner Grey. In my presence the Leader of the Opposition was confronted with the facts. He knows the facts. He knows that the attack that he made upon the integrity of the Commissioner of Police, the Federal Police and, of course, upon this Government is--


Mr Peacock —Mr Speaker, I take a point of order. As the Prime Minister has raised the question of a meeting in his office, I would like him to give a detailed appraisal of what transpired and the conclusions that were reached.


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Leader of the Opposition knows that that is not a point of order.


Mr Peacock —There is no impugning of the Commissioner of Police as he well knows . There was an impugning of members of his Party.


Mr SPEAKER —There is no point of order.


Mr HAWKE —The fact is that, in the meeting in my office, the Leader of the Opposition was shown, as he knows, a confidential letter which set out the times of the imposition, the taking off, the reimposition and then the taking off of the intercepts. He knows, as he has now invited me to give the details, he was told unequivocally that, in respect of each of those actions, the decision was taken by the Commissioner. He was told unequivocally that these decisions were taken by the Commissioner himself without any influence from anyone else. In respect of one point of the imposition the Commissioner said-this is in the letter-that it was in response to a request from Mr Justice Stewart.

In respect of the specific question, any political influence by government is completely repudiated by the Commissioner of the Federal Police. The imputation in the Leader of the Opposition's question which I have read out was that action was taken by the Commissioner of Police in respect of phone tapping as a result of pressure by government. That proposition was specifically and unequivocally repudiated by the Federal Commissioner of Police to the Leader of the Opposition . That was followed up by a letter this morning which is now in the possession of the Leader of the Opposition.

The facts are simple; they are indisputable: The Leader of the Opposition, in the depth of the misery in which he finds himself and in which, in some way or another, he has to perform, has descended to the most miserable form of abuse. Nothing more dangerous can be done by a person in a position of responsibility than to suggest that the Federal Police, when engaged in a major narcotics detection exercise-that is what is involved-would bow to political pressure from this Government or any other government. That was the unsubstantiated charge made by the Leader of the Opposition-that the Federal Police, engaged in an investigation of a major narcotics matter, arranged the imposition of their intercepts, their removal and the putting on of them again on the basis of pressure from this Government or the New South Wales Government.

The Leader of the Opposition was assured yesterday in my office by the Commissioner of the Federal Police that there was no basis for that charge and that, in the action taken, he had acted without any pressure at all from the Federal Government or the State Government. I repeat that there is nothing more despicable that a Leader of the Opposition in this country, or any other person in a position of responsibility, could do than to say that the Federal Police, engaged in a narcotics investigation, would act in regard to intercepts under the pressure of government. That was repudiated yesterday. It has been confirmed by writing today and the Leader of the Opposition is in possession of that repudiation. If he has a skerrick of decency he will withdraw and apologise.