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Tuesday, 23 October 1984
Page: 2205

Senator DURACK —Did the Attorney-General have in his office in Parliament House on any days preceding statements in the House of Representatives by Mr Lionel Bowen, the Deputy Prime Minister, or Mr Tickner the Attorney-General's departmental file relating to representations made by or on behalf of Morgan Ryan to myself for a no bill in respect of his committal on charges of forgery and conspiracy in March 1982? If so, for what reason was the file in the office of the Attorney-General? Did the Attorney-General or any member of his staff peruse the file and, if so, for what purpose? Can the Attorney give an assurance that the file was not perused by any other person? Was any information about any material on the file provided by the Attorney or any member of his staff to the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Tickner or any other unauthorised person?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I do recall that the files were in my office for a period of time over the last few weeks. I am not quite sure precisely when but it could well have been before statements were made by Mr Tickner; I do not think it was before statements were made by the Deputy Prime Minister, but I would have to check that. They were in my office for the purpose of a response that I was asked to make in my recollection by the Senate committee dealing with the matter of Mr Justice Murphy. The Senate Select Committee on Allegations Concerning a Judge, I think, wanted at one stage some information from me about the chronology, the sequence of events and the handling of the Morgan Ryan matter over its whole history, including the dates on which no bill applications had been made. That had an obvious relevance to its terms of reference. It was part of a normal process of processing information for the purposes of the Committee. I have no knowledge whatsoever of the file being perused by anyone else than members of my staff for that particular purpose.

Senator DURACK —I ask a supplementary question. Did any officer of the Senate committee or anybody connected with the Senate committee in fact exercise a request to have access to the file when it was in the Attorney's office?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I would need to check that matter. I will give the honourable senator information accordingly as soon as I do so.