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Friday, 15 June 1984
Page: 3142


Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General) —I table a report concerning certain information provided to the New South Wales Special Commission of Inquiry headed by Mr Justice Slattery and seek leave to have the text of the document, which is a short, informal one, incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows-

Sub-section 7A (8) of the Telecommunications (Interception) Act 1979 requires the Attorney-General to report to Parliament concerning certain information communicated to the N.S.W. Special Commission of Inquiry and I have previously tabled reports of information provided to Mr Justice Cross.

2. As honourable senators will know, Mr Justice Slattery succeeded Mr Justice Cross as Special Commissioner, and I subsequently corresponded with Mr Justice Slattery. Whilst the substance of that correspondence is not, in my view, such as requires me to report to Parliament, I take the view that it is proper for me to do so.

3. On 23 January 1984, I communicated, subject to specified conditions, information to the Hon. Mr Justice R. F. Cross, constituting the Special Commission of Inquiry concerning the circumstances surrounding the Early Release of Certain Prisoners, pursuant to the provisions of sub-section 7A (6) of the Telecommunications (Interception) Act 1979.

4. On 7 May I supplied to Mr Justice Slattery the tapes, and certified transcripts, of the information referred to above. I imposed the following conditions on its use-

(a) Transcripts and tape recordings should not be copied otherwise than with his express approval and for a purpose necessarily incidental to the conduct of the inquiry.

(b) Transcripts and tape recordings, and any copies thereof, when not in use should be suitably secured.

(c) Transcripts and tape recordings, and any copies thereof, should be delivered to the Australian Federal Police for destruction at the completion of the inquiry.

(d) No iformation contained in the transcripts or tape recordings which would disclose the identity of any person should be made public, whether in a report of the Commission or otherwise, unless the conduct of that person was directly relevant to the purpose of the inquiry.

5. In respect of specified conversations, I impose an additional condition, that the names of the persons mentioned therein be not made public, in any hearing, or in any report, without my agreement.

6. I also approved that he might- (a) communicate the information, or any part of it, to Counsel and other staff appointed to assist the Commission;

(b) communicate such parts of the information to such witnesses appearing before the Commission as may be required to enable the evidence of witnesses to be tested; and

(c) cause the information to be published in a Report of the Commission;

provided that any such communication or publishing was in accordance with condition (d) above, namely, that no information contained in the transcripts or tape recordings which would disclose the identity of any person should be made, or allowed to become, public unless the conduct of that person was directly relevant to the purpose of the inquiry.

7. I also approved that in any situation where the judge was considering recommending the bringing of an ex officio indictment against a person who had refused to give evidence before him, and wished to be addressed on that question by that person's legal representatives, he might communicate to those legal representatives such parts of the information, supplied by me, which were relevant to his consideration and which, in his opinion, should be necessarily communicated in order to allow appropriate argument to be put.

8. On 11 May, I approved that Mr Justice Slattery might communicate information , in the form of copies of the transcripts of legally intercepted telephone conversations, supplied by me, to counsel appearing for the following persons:

Mr Rex Jackson

Mr Keith Harris

Mr Howard Hilton

Mr Frank Hakim

Mr Salvatore Falvo

Mr Angelo Romeo

Mr Tony Giofrelle

subject to each counsel giving an undertaking that

the copies of the transcripts would not be copied;

the copies of the transcripts, when not in use, would be suitably secured;

the copies of the transcripts would not be shown to any person other than counsel's instructing solicitor and his client, and then only in conference and in respect of preparation for participation in the Inquiry;

the copies of the transcripts would be returned to the judge upon completion of the hearing; and

any person with access to the information contained in the copies of the transcripts would not in any way disclose the identity of any person, or allow the identity of any person to become public, unless the identity of that person had been made, or allowed to become, public as a consequence of the hearings being conducted by Mr Justice Slattery.