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Thursday, 31 May 1984
Page: 2237


The PRESIDENT —On Tuesday, 29 May, Senator Jessop directed a number of questions to me concerning the security of senators' telephones and whether electronic eavesdropping checks are made on senators' offices and various committee rooms. The Security Controller, in discussions with the senior Telecom technician at Parliament House, has been advised by the technician that a higher incidence of problems seemed to occur to Ministers' telephone systems after technical examinations had been carried out by Australian Security Intelligence Organisation technicians investigating possible interference with the telephones . The examination of the phones had been requested by Ministers. I have raised this matter with the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans), who has advised me he has sought a report from ASIO on it.

With regard to the other matters raised in the honourable senator's question, in part I answered these in my immediate response on 29 May. Random sweeps are not carried out. However, any honourable senator who has concerns can approach me and I will have a check carried out. I provided other details on this matter in my answer of 25 August 1983 to a question by the honourable senator on this same matter. In that answer I pointed out that in a building such as Parliament House, unless the room that has been checked is kept under constant surveillance following the inspection, continued freedom from possible eavesdropping cannot be assumed. With regard to committee rooms the offer is open to all committees to have rooms checked prior to hearings. The Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence availed itself of this opportunity on two occasions recently.