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Tuesday, 11 September 1984
Page: 773


Senator HAMER —My question is to the Attorney-General. Does he recall being a member of a Senate committee which found that there were far too many highly classified national security documents in government departments and that over- classification and retention of high security classifications when the security need was past seriously affected both administration and security? Does the Attorney-General remember being party to a recommendation that a new system should be introduced by government, as a matter of priority, to downgrade security classifications for documents on a regular basis unless reconsideration showed that continuation of the original security classification was justified? What progress has the Attorney-General made in this matter in the last 18 months ?


Senator GARETH EVANS —Yes, I was a member of that committee. Yes, I was a party to that recommendation. I also add that I was the recipient of the report from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation which I tabled in this place recently in edited form which came to exactly the same conclusion, that there were too many highly classified documents and too many highly classified positions in the Public Service. I have certainly expressed views on that subject within the Government. What progress is being made on that is something that I will need to check and I will advise the honourable senator further. It may be something which demands a more co-ordinated and systematic attack than has hitherto been the case. But I fully share the sentiment that underlies the honourable senator's question and I have not changed my views since coming to government.