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Wednesday, 6 June 1984
Page: 2615

Senator REID —My question is directed to the Attorney-General. I refer him to his statement on the decision not to table the interim report received from the Special Prosecutor investigating the Age tapes material, while at the same time making the report available to the Senate Select Committee on the Conduct of a Judge and the Stewart Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drug Trafficking. I point out that this is the second occasion in recent times when the Government has suppressed a report dealing with allegations of corruption and criminal activity , the other being one I have mentioned previously, the tabling of the Menzies report into the case of Mr Ramon Sala. Is the refusal to make Mr Temby's report public due to concern that the contents might prove embarrassing to the Government in the context of the need for a powerful and independent National Crime Authority? Will the Government reconsider its decision and table both the Temby and Menzies reports, even if in some sanitised form?

Senator GARETH EVANS —The Government is not in any way hiding from the appropriate parliamentary bodies the substance of the Temby report. As Senator Reid acknowledges, the report has been made available in a full, unedited, unexpurgated and unsanitised form, to the Senate Committee, subject however to conditions of confidentiality as to its public release, which conditions are inconsistent with the prospect of tabling the document in the Parliament. As I indicated in a public statement at the time the reasons why confidentiality is insisted upon by the Government are simply these: First, the report is very much an interim one and will be supplemented, obviously, by a full and final report, as Mr Temby says, no later than the middle of July. An interim report is just that-a progress report of developments to date and as such not of itself containing any recommendations or of itself especially noteworthy. Secondly, and more significantly, the report contains a very detailed appendix from the Australian Federal Police indicating in very considerable detail the progress of the investigations to date and naming a great many individuals who have been interviewed by the police in the course of that investigation.

The parent interim report also contains a number of references to individuals, again not in the context of making any findings about them but identifying them as having been caught up one way or another in the investigation process. It has been the practice not to table police reports of that kind, nor to make public the names of individuals in the context of purely investigative reports of this kind. Apart from the interim character of the report, for that reason it was not desired at this stage to put the report into the public domain. It will probably always be inappropriate for those names to be mentioned in the public domain. Moreover, if the report were to be sanitised in the way suggested, by taking out the names of all the individuals mentioned, it would remove most of the contents of the report at this stage. So, for a variety of interrelated reasons, and for those reasons only, but more particularly based on the fact that the Committee that is doing a job in this area has access to the full version of it-so it cannot be said that the Government is keeping these things to its breast-the Government has taken the view that the interim report ought not to be tabled. I am terribly sorry to have bored Senator Withers but if his side would ask some more interesting questions they would get some more interesting answers.