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Wednesday, 14 October 1964

Senator MURPHY (New South Wales) . - What was said by the Minister representing the Attorney-General has prompted me to rise in this debate. The reputation of persons is a very precious thing in this community. Yet, in this Parliament we constantly hear attacks on reputations. It seems that every generation has to fight for the traditional freedom of speech and right of assembly in British communities. Constant attacks have been made in these chambers upon these rights.

Senator Cavanaghraised the matter of Mr. Sachs. I want to deal with this matter only in passing because 1 understand that Senator Cohen will speak about it in more detail.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator McKellar

With which division is the honorable senator dealing?

Senator MURPHY - Division No. 115 - Administrative. I am dealing with a matter that was dealt with by the Minister.

The CHAIRMAN - I have allowed fairly wide latitude but I do not think I can continue to do so. Will you please try to keep to Division No. 115?

Senator MURPHY - 1 will, Mr. Chairman. The division covers the functions of the Attorney-General's Department, the advice given to the Attorney-General and presumably any maladministration of the Department. It is a very serious thing if a Minister can attack a man's reputation by stating to the Parliament and to the people of Australia something which he alleges was true in 1945, and then, when questioned, reply that what was said was true. I do not know whether it was true or not, but in fact something happened in 1951 or 1952 which is a matter of public record. This happening should have been known to those advising the Attorney-General. If it was not known, then those advising the Attorney-General were not doing their job. If it was known then it should have been indicated. It is just as much a lie to suppress the truth as it is to lie expressly. That is one of the oldest principles known to man. When a person's reputation is at stake the Parliament and the people are entitled to know the whole truth. Either there has been maladministration on the part of the advisers of the Atorney-General or there has been a suppression of truth.

The other matter which the Minister representing the Attorney-General dealt with related to peace congresses. He referred to what has been said in respect of these con gresses. Here again there has been a suppression of the truth. I do not know whether what was said by the Attorney-General was correct or not, but I know that it was not the whole truth. I am not a sponsor of the congress that has been mentioned, nor am 1 associated with it, but I do know, from what I have seen in the daily newspapers, that a great number of honorable persons are associated with it. Some are respected members of trade unions, some are respected professional persons; and others are respected members of churches. Respectable persons in the community have investigated this body and have seen fit to sponsor it. I do not think a statement which failed to reveal these facts should have been made in this Parliament on behalf of the Government.

The Parliament is entitled to be told the whole truth. There ought not to be a suppression of the truth or some half statements made which put organisations in the worst possible light. If this course is to be continued it will bring into disrepute bodies which ought not to be brought into disrepute. The Attorney-General has the responsibility to administer security matters, but organisations of this kind ought not to be brought unfairly into disrepute. If the investigations of the Department are faulty then they ought to be cleaned up and then the whole truth should be put before the Parliament and the Australian people.

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