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Wednesday, 7 December 1983
Page: 3369


Mr PEACOCK —Does the Prime Minister recall that the non-disclosure of information by the honourable member for Port Adelaide caused the Prime Minister to mislead the House? In view of the fact that this most serious offence, the misleading of this Parliament, lay outside the terms of references of the Hope Royal Commission on Australia's Security and Intelligence Agencies, what action does he now propose to take on this matter?


Mr HAWKE —As is recognised by all speakers of the Opposition, the answer that I gave on 17 May was in accordance with my understanding of the response that had been given to me by the honourable member for Port Adelaide. Those circumstances have been taken into account by my colleagues and me in the decisions that we have taken in regard to the honourable member for Port Adelaide, which considerations I have responded to at length. It seems appropriate to me that if we are to talk about the impact upon the public interest of the non-disclosure of information, it would make sense if we put those things into some perspective and remember the impact of the non-disclosure that is involved in the actions of other people. It would be a very interesting exercise if, in regard to the question of non-disclosure and the subsequent misleading of the Parliament, at some stage the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would tell this House what, in fact, the circumstances were that existed between himself and the previous Prime Minister in regard to the most massive non-disclosure in the history of this country, that is, that which occurred in the week before the election when the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the previous Prime Minister had a conversation. It is very interesting to speculate on the nature of that conversation. Did the then Treasurer say to the then Prime Minister: 'Prime Minister, I want you to know that this country is $3.6 billion worse off than it was'? Did the then Prime Minister say to the present Deputy Leader of the Opposition: 'Well, we must not tell the truth'? Did the now Deputy Leader of the Opposition, as a matter of mateship and friendship to the Prime Minister, say: ' Oh well, yes, you are my friend, Prime Minister. We will not tell the people of Australia the truth'? Once these people on the other side of the House can come into this House with clean hands, the people of Australia may begin to take some notice of them.

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