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Wednesday, 17 April 1985
Page: 1133

Senator MASON —I ask whether the Minister representing the Attorney-General would agree that the Australian public has every reason to expect the Government to keep itself informed as to the whereabouts of Robert Trimbole and that failure by the Government to do this must inevitably be viewed generally in the community with some considerable cynicism? In that regard, does the Minister recall a written answer of 19 February to me from the Attorney-General? This answer stated:

You may be assured that the Government is taking all further steps available to it to secure Mr Trimbole's return to Australia.

On 26 March I asked some simple questions on notice designed to establish the Government's credibility in regard to keeping track of the movements of Robert Trimbole. I ask the Minister the reason why those questions have not had the brief and straightforward answers required. Whatever those reasons, I ask whether the Minister will now answer the question which read as follows:

1. Are the present whereabouts of Robert Trimbole known to the Government.

2. Did the Government instruct any Australian law enforcement personnel to maintain knowledge of Trimbole's whereabouts following his release from Mountjoy Prison on 6 February 1985; if no such instruction was given, why was it not given; if such an instruction was given, what reasons are there for a failure to monitor Trimbole's whereabouts?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I understand that an answer to Senator Mason's question on notice has been provided and that he should receive it today or tomorrow. The particular answers to his questions from the Attorney-General are as follows. In regard to the first question the answer states:

As the Attorney-General stated in a telex to Senator Mason on 19 February 1985, the Government is taking all steps available to it to secure Mr Trimbole's return to Australia. The Government is being kept informed of current international investigations to locate Mr Trimbole. The Attorney-General is not prepared to give any further information, at this stage, on the present whereabouts of Mr Trimbole because it may prejudice those investigations.

The answer to the second question is yes. The consequential part of that answer states:

. . . see the answer to question 1.

It is the Government's resolve, as Mr Bowen has said on numerous occasions, and as I said last year, to pursue Trimbole wherever we possibly can. I assure the Senate that that resolve is not one whit diminished by the unfortunate course of events that have occurred as a result of the operation of the Irish legal processes. These are not attributable to any default on the part of the Australian lawyers who put in place an extradition treaty which was upheld by the courts with quite remarkable speed after it had been verified that Trimbole had been arrested there and who acted subsequently with propriety and despatch.