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Wednesday, 26 April 1961

Mr McMAHON (LOWE, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Labour and National Service) - It is very nice of the honorable gentleman to pay me the courtesy of asking me a question in my capacity as Acting Attorney-General. I have read the article on which the question was based, which appeared in, I think, " Nation ", and I have also read a commentary on the article that was published recently. From my own knowledge, the article is highly imaginative and wrong. Apart from the technical and drafting changes listed by the Attorney-General, there has been no change in the law so far as the Australian Broadcasting Commission is concerned, with one exception. That exception, Sir, is that the law applies now to retired members of the staff of the Australian Broadcasting Commission as well as to present employees of the commission. In other words, the provisions of the Crimes Act relating to official secrets in their present form have applied to members of the staff of the commission since 1932 in the same way as they apply now. I repeat that there has been no change in the law; it is much the same as it was. The Attorney-General saw no necessity to explain that the law in relation to present employees was the same as it had been, but he did explain that the provisions of the Crimes Act dealing with official secrets would apply to retired or dismissed members of the staff of the commission in the same way as it applied to existing employees. Once again I must destroy this propaganda against the Crimes Act. The criticism is wrong in fact and always has been wrong. I am sorry that T do not know the position with regard to the Australian National University, but I will obtain details for the honorable gentleman and give them to him as soon as I can.

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