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Wednesday, 7 December 1983
Page: 3371


Mr ANTHONY —My question is directed to the Prime Minister. In view of the fact that both Mr Young and Mr Combe were found by Mr Justice Hope to have acted improperly and in view of the fact that Mr Young is to be rewarded for his behaviour by being promoted back into the Cabinet, I ask the Prime Minister: Does he see any conflict between the Government's treatment of Mr Young and Mr Combe?


Mr HAWKE —The answer is no. What, of course, has come through crystal clear yesterday and today is that the Opposition cannot point one word at this Government in regard to the conduct of this matter because, as distinct from the Opposition, the Government accepts the findings of the Royal Commissioner whom we appointed. When the Royal Commissioner brings down a finding the Government does not try to shoot him down in flames as the Opposition tried to do with Mr Justice Woodward. Those findings are crystal clear. Those findings reveal that in every respect the Government's handling of this matter was right.

Let us consider Mr Combe, who is included in the question. The report of the Royal Commissioner states that everything we did in relation to Mr Combe was done properly. I remind the House and the people of this country that the difficulty that this Government and I, as Prime Minister, had in handling Mr Combe's interest was as a result of the previous Government's deliberate refusal in 1979 to include in the legislation a provision which would have covered Mr Combe's situation. The then Labor Opposition pleaded and pleaded with the previous Government in this House and in the Senate that it should include in the legislation provisions which would cover the circumstances of Mr Combe. But because it was then openly, as it is now covertly, totally uninterested in the civil liberties of anyone in this country the previous Government refused to include in the legislation provisions which would have covered Mr Combe.

In the absence of provisions which the previous Government refused to include in the legislation we had to operate accordingly. What did the Royal Commissioner find? He found that in every respect we did everything we could to protect the interests of Mr Combe. Why were we not able finally to protect Mr Combe? It was because the Opposition would not abide by the very basic principles that the Royal Commissioner laid down. I shall remind the House of what the Royal Commissioner said.


Mr Sinclair —Why did you welsh on your mates?


Mr SPEAKER —Order! The Deputy Leader of the National Party is becoming repetitive. I ask him to cease interjecting.


Mr HAWKE —The Opposition obviously does not want to hear us, but we will be heard. What did the Royal Commissioner say about what should be the appropriate standards of conduct? I shall read from paragraph 3.19 of the report. If the Opposition had any shred of decency it would take note of what the Royal Commissioner said. I shall read the last sentence of paragraph 3.19. The Opposition should read it, remember it and act according to it. This is what Mr Justice Hope said:

Matters of national security ought to transcend party political considerations and should seldom be allowed to become subjects for partisan controversy.

Because the Opposition did not have the beginning of an understanding of that fundamental precept, after all we had done to protect Mr Combe, Opposition members could not help themselves; they came in here with their orchestrated set of questions-first the honourable member for Warringah, then the honourable member for Kooyong and then the right honourable member for New England. Then they deliberately said: 'We will ensure that we will expose publicly the relationship between Mr Combe and Mr Ivanov'. They are the ones who trampled on the civil liberties of Mr Combe in 1979. They trampled on his rights in this House. The Royal Commission found that we did everything we possibly could to protect those interests, and have so acted.