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Wednesday, 17 October 1984
Page: 1857

Senator GARETH EVANS —I also had a question yesterday from Senator Mason relating to an alleged Central Intelligence Agency publication and CIA activities in Australia. I undertook to get a response from the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following information in reply to the honourable senator's question:

The Government has no information at its disposal regarding the authenticity of the claims made in The Age report to which the Honourable Senator referred, which is based on a similar report in the New York Times of 15 October 1984. I can confirm that, as is usual in such cases, a spokesman for the CIA refused to comment on the report, and there has been no other United States Government response to it.

The position of this Government is that Nicaragua and other countries in Central America should be allowed to determine their own affairs as sovereign, independent nations free from outside interference. This position has been stated on a number of occasions and has been made known to the United States Government.

The Honourable Senator also referred to the joint defence facility at Pine Gap. In his parliamentary statement of 6 June 1984 the Prime Minister described the general purpose and functions of the joint Australian/United States defence facilities at Pine Gap and Nurrungar.

In that statement he also explained that the Government would not be commenting further upon speculation or assertions about the facilities at Pine Gap and Nurrungar. Obviously, therefore, it would be inappropriate for me to confirm or deny the Honourable senator's assertions about Pine Gap or to seek to enlarge upon the information which the Prime Minister has provided.

I stress, though, the point that these facilities are jointly managed and operated by Australian and American Governments and I repeat the Prime Minister' s assurance that the Government is satisfied that all functions and activities at the joint facilities require, and have, its full knowledge and concurrence and that the operations of the facilities in no way derogate from Australian sovereignty.

As to the honourable senator's final question about CIA activity in Australia, it has been the consistent policy of successive Australian Governments not to comment upon speculation or allegations about intelligence and security matters. I note however that Australian and United States Government agencies, including those in the intelligence and security fields, maintain extensive and valuable arrangements for exchanging information and views of mutual interest. In addition I would note that Australian Governments have had assurances at the highest level over a number of years denying that the United States Government or its representatives had been involved in improper or inappropriate activities in Australia.

Allegations of CIA activity in Australia were raised in discussions the PM had in Washington in June last year with Senator Moynihan, Vice Chairman of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Senator Moynihan offered to assist the Hope Royal Commission on Australia's Security and Intelligence Agencies in any enquiry it wished to undertake in this matter. The offer was conveyed to the Hope Royal Commission which is expected to refer to the question in its final report.