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Thursday, 10 May 1984
Page: 1933

Senator CHANEY —I refer the Attorney-General to the question I asked him on 3 May about his reported suspicions that his office telephones may have been bugged. I note the Attorney's non-committal answer on that occasion, but I draw his attention to the report in Tuesday's Australian newspaper which claims that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has reported to the Attorney that it could only conclude that a bug had been used on his office telephones. I also refer to yesterday's reports that the Attorney briefed Caucus on this matter. Will the Attorney-General inform honourable senators whether they should be concerned about the security of ministerial and other telephone services in this building?

Senator GARETH EVANS —The reports of what I said to Caucus were quite garbled. However, I did not regard it as appropriate to correct those reports, any more than I regard it as appropriate now to canvass in any degree of detail what I understand to be the situation. All I perhaps should say, given that those reports have appeared, is that the ASIO report to me as to whether there had been an intercept of my telephone was inconclusive in its findings for reasons which are set out in detail in the report. Accordingly, I think the implication of my answer to this Parliament the other day remains the same, that people should exercise caution, regrettable though this may be, in having conversations on ministerial phones.