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Monday, 25 March 1985
Page: 700

Senator ELSTOB —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs concerned that recent publicity surrounding the United States and Australia MX missile tests has highlighted how top secret defence strategies can be analysed and deduced by correlating information gained through the United States Freedom of Information Act? Is the Minister able to confirm whether any action has been taken to counteract such penetration of security information systems and safeguard information which could be used to the detriment of this country?

Senator GARETH EVANS —The Government has taken the view that it is not appropriate for any Minister to comment on the workings of the United States Freedom of Information Act. That is a matter which falls within the sovereign rights of the United States and is not one on which the Australian Government would wish to offer a view. If, however, the United States Act enabled public access to defence or international relations information which the Australian Government might wish to remain protected, we would, of course, want to be consulted by the United States Government in advance. In both the Australian and the American Freedom of Information Acts there is scope for consultation on matters of common interest. I understand that consultation on such matters occurs regularly.