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Wednesday, 31 October 1956

Mr WARD (East Sydney) .- This clause deals with the appointment of officers to the security service and also, I take it, with the employment of agents, because it refers to temporary employees and casual employees of the organization, and I suppose that that would mean agents. The debate on this clause, therefore, appears to be the appropriate occasion on which to raise the question of whether the Petrovs are now to be regarded as permanent, casual or temporary employees of the security service, lt is also the occasion on which to ask what work the Petrovs are now engaged on. I think that we ought to have some information on that, because there appears to be some screen of silence thrown over this particular matter.

The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Government refuse to give any information on it beyond stating that the Petrovs are employed by the Government, and that they are still giving valuable information to the Commonwealth and the free world, as the Prime Minister put it. What I should like to know is: Was it not one of the conditions on which the Petrovs were given political asylum in this country that they were to make available to the Commonwealth all the information that they possessed? Now, surely they did not have so much of it that it has taken them two years to give to the Commonwealth the information which, I understand, we bought from them for the sum of £5,000. Are the Petrovs continually to be the responsibility of this country, and of the community and the taxpayers, because surely it is a rather extraordinary situation that exists? The security service has provided the Petrovs, I understand, with some sort of lavish accommodation. There are guards to be paid. It gave them a " ghost " writer when they were writing a book from which, I understand, the Petrovs alone, according to the Prime Minister's answer to a question I asked him, will benefit financially. The Prime Minister said that Vladimir Petrov "was not receiving a wage. I do not know whether he is to get a further payment on top of the £5,000 already received because, according to other information that we have been able to glean from the Prime Minister, the receipt given by Vladimir Petrov was not marked " Final payment ". Further than that, according to the evidence given by Petrov before the royal commission, Petrov regards the £5,000 as part payment only. So evidently he is expecting to receive more.

Mrs. Petrovgets a living allowance, a clothing allowance and so forth, and is provided with accommodation. I think that we ought to be told how long this arrangement is to continue. To give some idea of the fact that this matter goes a little further than was indicated by the information supplied by the Prime Minister, when I wanted to know what amount of money was involved in making a member of the security service available to assist these people in writing a book I was told that it was impossible to dissect and get at the actual cost of maintaining the Petrovs in this country because the salaries of guards had to be taken into account. Now there is another factor to be taken into account, because I understand that one of the guards has met with an accident. I understand that Vladimir

Petrov was cleaning a sporting rifle and, evidently, jumped up suddenly - I do not know whether because of some alarm or noi - and that one of the guards in this incident was struck and had to receive treatment in Yaralla repatriation hospital.

Mr HAROLD HOLT (HIGGINS, VICTORIA) - I do not know what this has to do with the question before us.

Mr WARD - It has something to do with the employment of agents. I want to know whether the Petrovs are employed under this particular provision in the legislation. I want to know whether, if their services are to continue, they will be regarded as temporary or casual employees, or are to become permanent officers of the Commonwealth Public Service or of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization. I should like to know whether, in return for their defection, the taxpayers of this country are to keep them on the public pay-roll indefinitely. I think that that is a reasonable request to make. Further than that, I believe that the purpose of providing guards :s not solely with the idea that these people may expect some violence from some people. I have been informed that Vladimir Petrov is addicted to drink, and goes on carousals occasionally-

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