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Tuesday, 21 August 1973
Page: 17


Mr SNEDDEN -Does the Prime Minister deny that the only reasonable construction that could be put on the words 'unprecedented', 'extraordinary ' and 'gravely damaging to ASIO and to the national security interest' is that a complaint was being made?


Mr WHITLAM -There was no complaint. The right honourable gentleman asked a question on 28 March, about whether a complaint or complaints had been made to me and in his second sentence he asked:

If the answer is yes, will he table the letter or other document in which the complaint or complaints were made?

There was no letter or other document in which any complaint was made. The Director-General of Security not only made no oral complaint to me when he called the day after the police visit to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation headquarters in Melbourne but on the contrary said that he had not come to complain about the Attorney-General.


Mr Snedden - Did he use those words?


Mr WHITLAM -Yes, and I believe they are repeated in the letter which I sought leave to incorporate.


Mr Snedden - Did he use those words?


Mr WHITLAM - Yes, he did.


Mr Snedden -He used them?


Mr WHITLAM - He said that he had not come to complain about the Attorney-General.


Mr Snedden -Did he use the words unprecedented', 'extraordinary' and 'gravely damaging to ASIO'?


Mr WHITLAM -No, he did not. I have said that already publicly. He did not use those words. I am not only relying on my own memory in saying that he did not use those words; I am also relying on the fact that notes which were taken by the Secretary of my Department and my principal private secretary do not note any such words. The Director-General has given evidence before the Senate Select Committee on the Civil Rights of Migrant Australians. That evidence shows that he deliberately distinguishes between making complaints and expressing concern. He was questioned at length. He was quite deliberate and consistent in making that distinction. He called on me to find out from me where he and his organisation stood in the light of the police visit. In particular, he expressed concern about access to information from other agencies and from individuals whose confidences he and the Organisation had undertaken to respect. His call on me was for constructive purposes and he spoke constructively. I believe I responded constructively. His sworn evidence before the Senate Select Committee shows that his concern has been allayed.







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