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Thursday, 17 November 1983
Page: 2867


Mr STEELE HALL —I direct my question to the Prime Minister. Would he describe his meeting place in San Francisco with Sal Amarena, as described in the National Times on 29 July, as a 'hang-out for boozers, burglars, bookies-


Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! The question is not related to the Prime Minister's responsibilities as Prime Minister.


Mr Steele Hall —Mr Acting Speaker, I take a point of order. The Prime Minister has made a public statement about this subject. It has been publicised today. The Prime Minister therefore has involved himself in the question. His Press statement made at 1.20 p.m. today comments on this very question. I would have thought that, by the Prime Minister's involvement publicly of his own volition, you would allow me to question him further about the matter on which he has commented so far.


Mr ACTING SPEAKER —Order! The Chair cannot be expected to know what the honourable member has in his mind. If he directs a question to the Prime Minister on a different basis, I will give it consideration.


Mr STEELE HALL —I will continue, Mr Acting Speaker, with your permission. Would the Prime Minister also describe it-this refers to the place at which the meeting occurred-as intelligence authorities have done, as a place the primary purpose of which was to provide a centre for meetings of organised crime members ? Will the Prime Minister tell the House what took place at that meeting, who the American trade union official was who organised it and how long the Prime Minister had known that trade union official? Has the Prime Minister subsequently been involved in any way with that trade union official regarding trade union or other matters.


Mr HAWKE —I was asked a question at the Press conference today. I answered it. Let me go to that part of the question which I regard as relevant. In 1978, on the way to a meeting of the Socialist International in Vancouver with Mr David Combe I went to-I do not know how I would describe it, nor do I know how others describe it-a cafe bar in San Francisco that had been suggested as being an interesting place to have a drink by a trade union official who had been nominated to me from within Australia. I cannot describe what its functions then were, are now or are likely to be in the future. I cannot even remember how to get to the place. If I saw the people who were there then again, I would not recollect them. I could not remember them. I hasten to say that that is not a function of the condition in which I went into or left the place. It is a reflection of the fact that I have been there once. I had never seen the people there before and have never seen them since. I do not make a habit of trying to suggest that I can recollect over a period of years people I have seen for a matter of some two hours.

As is well understood by every decent person in this House and outside it, it was a matter of total innocence in its arrangement and in its execution. Of course, since that time I have not seen or had anything to do with anyone who was in that place. As I have indicated, the matter was one of total innocence. There has been no subsequent association with anyone at that place as, of course , there would not be. As I say, I cannot even recollect the appearance of the people who were there.

I conclude by saying what I said a moment ago: Every person of integrity in this House would understand the total innocence of my involvement. The person who disclosed this very interesting fact of my passing visit to this place was Mr David Combe. He has disclosed it for reasons of his own making. I do not suggest that the fact that Mr Combe was in that place with me for some two hours suggests that Mr Combe had or has any association with, knowledge of or connection with the people whom he happened to meet there any more than I did.