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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 71

(Question No. 4762)

Mr Scott asked the Prime Minister, upon notice, on 14 October 1986:

(1) Is he able to say whether US State Department spokesperson Mr Bernard Kalb resigned in protest at the ``disinformation'' campaign authorised by President Reagan's National Security Adviser.

(2) Was his attention drawn, prior to this question, to the article in the US journal Aviation Week and Space Technology of 17 March 1986 entitled ``US Using Disinformation Policy to Impede Technical Data Flow''; if so, when did the article come to his attention.

(3) Does the article outline US disinformation issued in relation to the (a) USAF Advanced Technology Bomber, (b) USN Advanced Tactical Aircraft and (c) Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI).

(4) Will he give an assurance that no US disinformation relating to the SDI program, or other programs in which Australia either co-operates or has an observer's interest, has been (a) accepted as fact by the Government or its agencies or (b) used as a basis for policy decisions.

(5) If he cannot give this assurance, why not.

(6) If the disinformation has been used as a basis for Government decisions, on what basis has it been used.

(7) Did he state in the House (Hansard, 15 April 1986, p. 2269) and in a press release the same day that he and the Minister for Foreign Affairs were privy to apparently compelling evidence of a direct line of command between Libya and the Berlin nightclub bombing; if so, why did he use the word ``apparently''.

(8) Will he give an assurance in the light of Mr Kalb's resignation and the Aviation Week article, that the evidence to which he and the Minister were privy was genuine and not disinformation.

(9) If he will give this assurance, what is the basis on which it is given; if he will not give his assurance, why not.

(10) On his last visit to the US did he propose to President Reagan that the US make public its apparently compelling evidence on the Berlin bombing; if so, was he unsuccessful.

(11) Is he able to say whether the US refusal to release the evidence was based on a desire to protect intelligence sources or capabilities; if so, is that refusal now suspect in the light of Mr Kalb's disclosures.

Mr Hawke —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) In announcing his resignation on 8 October, Mr Bernard Kalb stated that his action was in dissent from a disinformation campaign which US media reports claimed had been conducted against Libya. He did not respond to journalists' questions as to whether he had personal knowledge that such a campaign had been conducted, or confirm the existence of alleged documents on which the press reports were based.

(2) and (3) No. I am advised that the article reports unnamed US officials as claiming that a disinformation policy is being conducted by the US Government to impede the transfer of accurate technological information to the Soviet Union.

(4), (5) and (6) The Australian Government accepted the information supplied to it as genuine and therefore has no reason to believe that it has been subject to a disinformation program by the US Government on these particular matters.

(7), (8) and (9) The Australian Government has no reason to believe that the evidence that the Minister for Foreign Affairs and I were shown was not genuine.

(10) and (11) I urged the US Government to make public as much as possible of the evidence that it held. I understand that the US Government made serious efforts in that direction but felt constrained by the need to protect sensitive intelligence sources.