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Wednesday, 27 March 1985
Page: 888

Senator SHORT —by leave-In the Senate yesterday, in reply to a question from me, Senator Walsh said:

. . . it has been suggested by some people that former Treasury officials who leaked documents obtained the fringe benefit of Liberal Party preselection for seats in 1975 . . .

This was reported in today's Press. The only Treasury official who gained Liberal Party of Australia endorsement for a parliamentary seat in 1975 was me. In 1975 I was endorsed as a candidate by members of the Ballarat Federal electorate committee and was subsequently elected as the Federal member for Ballarat. During the election campaign in Ballarat in 1975 various elements within the local Labor Party accused me of having been the Treasury official who had leaked the documents relating to the Khemlani loans affair, which was one of the numerous affairs that led to the downfall of the Whitlam Government. I denied those allegations orally at that time and I regret that now, after a period of almost 10 years, Senator Walsh's typically vicious insinuations lead me to have to do so again. I do not know whether any Treasury officials leaked documents to the Liberal Party in 1975. If they did, I do not know who they were.

What I do know is that, firstly, when I was a member of the Commonwealth Public Service for a period of more than 20 years I never leaked any documents or any other information to any political party. Secondly, the coalition parties which were in opposition in 1975 are aware that I was not a source of any information to them, nor was I ever approached to be such a source of information. Thirdly, the leading figures of the then Labor Government did not at any time seek to suggest that I was the source of any disclosure of official information to its political opponents. The then Treasurer, Mr Hayden, has today confirmed to me 'that he has no reason to believe that I was the source of any disclosure of information'.

I thought very carefully before making this statement today. My original inclination was simply to let Senator Walsh's typical outpouring of venom pass without comment from me. However, I feel obliged to make the statement because Senator Walsh has impugned my professional reputation and integrity in a way that I find intolerable. I pay no regard to what Senator Walsh personally may think of me, but I do pay very deep regard to what my professional colleagues, of all political persuasions, both inside and outside this Parliament, think of my integrity. I make this statement, which is the last time I will speak on this issue, solely for that purpose.