Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 23 August 1984
Page: 259

Senator LEWIS —My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Is it a fact that with one of his rushes of blood to the head he proposed recently that George Negus and the 60 Minutes team should be allowed to enter the headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and film a documentary on ASIO activities to 'demythologise' them? It is one of the Evans-type words which have about seven syllables. No doubt he will correct me. Did the Attorney- General give any consideration at all to the risks that identification of ASIO officers would have on the officers themselves and their families, or indeed on their ability to carry out their duties after identification? Will the Attorney- General tell the people of this nation whether it is his intention to allow ASIO to continue to serve this nation, or is it his intention to attempt to sabotage it by devious means such as those used by his idolised predecessor and mentor, Attorney-General Murphy?

Senator GARETH EVANS —It is a fact that George Negus contacted me and subsequently wrote to me suggesting that he make a 60 Minutes program on ASIO. It is and was my view that subject to the requirements of security it was desirable that ASIO be demystified, a word with four syllables, or demythologised, a word with five syllables; that its staff be shown as a representative cross-section of the Australian community to the extent that it is possible to do that without identifying them; and that the organisation be presented as a responsible and efficient agency of government. With those thoughts in mind I approached the Director-General, Mr Barnett, to seek his views and those of the organisation on the practicability of the proposal by Mr Negus. After appropriate consultation with members of the organisation Mr Barnett advised me that, although he had some sympathy for the concept lying behind the idea of some sort of television documentary program, the proposal was impractical for a variety of reasons which he set out and which we discussed. I certainly entirely accept the reasons advanced by Mr Barnett for that conclusion .