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Wednesday, 19 October 1983
Page: 1917

Mr STEELE HALL —I address my question to the Prime Minister following my question yesterday to the Special Minister of State concerning allegations about Mr Jackson, the New South Wales Minister for Corrective Services. Is the Prime Minister aware that the Premier of New South Wales, Mr Wran, admitted yesterday that he did not know who was the prominent racing figure who associated with Mr Jackson and in so doing has indicated that he has not been informed of the content of the telephone interceptions? Is the Prime Minister aware that the Deputy Premier, Mr Ferguson, said yesterday that he had not been told that Mr Jackson had associated regularly with persons connected with a well-known drug trafficker and has thereby indicated that he is unaware of the content of the telephone interceptions? I ask the Prime Minister: Why is it that the Premier and Deputy Premier are unaware of the information when, in fact, the previous Special Minister of State visited Mr Ferguson on 16 May under specific instructions from the Prime Minister to inform him of these matters? Will the Prime Minister now take action to ensure that those two gentlemen are given all the information, including the content of the telephone taps which has been perused by his own Attorney-General, Senator Gareth Evans, to allow a full and frank inquiry to be held by the New South Wales authorities into these allegations?

Mr HAWKE —The honourable member for Boothby still seems to be suffering under a basic misapprehension as to the appropriate course of action in these matters. I will let him know again what it is. I hope that on this occasion he will understand. When the information became available to the Special Minister of State in May that there could be possible breaches of the law, the Special Minister of State took steps immediately to convey that fact at the political level. As the honourable member will recall, this was done on 16 May. Simultaneously with that the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, Major-General Grey, was in contact with Commissioner Abbott of the New South Wales Police Force. Once this Government had discharged its obligation of indicating the possibility of any problems, it had discharged all that it properly should do in those circumstances.

Mr Steele Hall —Surely you should have passed the information on.

Mr HAWKE —If the honourable member wants to hear the answer, I ask him for God's sake to shut up.

Honourable members interjecting-

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The House will come to order. I remind honourable members that until the House comes to order Question Time is being used up.

Mr HAWKE —As I indicated on a previous occasion when this matter was raised, honourable members on the other side of the House seem to have very adjustable principles when it comes to the matter of the relations between Federal governments and State governments and their respective responsibilities. We have a clear understanding of what it is proper to do in these circumstances and we did it. What is conveyed in terms of the contents of the tapes is obviously-I would have thought the honourable member would understand this-not a matter to be dealt with at the political level. We convey the fact that there could be a problem; then it is a matter for the New South Wales Government to handle. What is transmitted in respect of the contents of the tapes will be a matter between the Australian Federal Police and the State police.

I repeat that we as a government have done everything that we were required to do. We did it expeditiously. We are not-to satisfy the aspirations of these desperate people on the other side of the House who have nothing of substance to cling to in the present political situation-going to do anything to assist them in their desperation which will involve an improper intervention by this Government in the affairs of New South Wales. I repeat that what we have done on this occasion is the course of action that we would follow on any other such occasion. As soon as any indication is given to us of the possibility of any infringement of the laws of a State, we will convey that information, that possibility, to the State, whichever State it is. The way in which it is then handled is a matter for the authorities of that State. I make it quite clear- this is perhaps more particularly relevant to the question that was asked yesterday-that there is no way in the world that in this place this Government will disclose the contents of conversations obtained by the Federal Police in the pursuit of its inquiries in regard to drugs. It may be that honourable members opposite would like to have those lurid details available for their purposes, but we attach a greater importance to making sure that the appropriate task of the Federal Police is not inhibited by that unsustainable sort of practice.