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Wednesday, 20 September 1972
Page: 1001


Senator GEORGES - Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that at the end of this year the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation will have cost the nation $41,524,720? Will he admit that the recent acts of terrorism in Sydney, followed by many bomb hoaxes and now' the allegations of secret police acitivity arc a threat to the security of this nation? Will he tell the Senate exactly what the security service is doing and what it has done to allow such a state of affairs to exist and to continue to exist?


Senator GREENWOOD - While we are all concerned at what happened in Sydney last Saturday it is a concern at the lawlessness which a bomb outrage represents and the fear which that lawlessness engenders. That is the fear which we all have. Until the police investigations have ascertained more about the circumstances of how and why this occurred, it is purely an assumption - a prejudgment if you like - on the honourable senator's part to say that it has a political aspect or that it affects the security of the country. I think it is unlikely that the security of the country, in the sense in which I use the term, is affected by the type of incident to which the honourable senator refers. At the present time the security of the country is well safeguarded in a variety of ways by this Government and its agencies. But indeed it requires a continuing surveillance of different varieties. I believe that that is what the country has been given and will continue to receive. I believe also that in the 20-odd years in which the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has been in existence - it was established, let us not forget, by an Australian Labor Party government - the amount of money which has been spent on it has been well spent. 1 am more apprehensive about what is reported to be a one vote decision of the Federal Conference of the Australian Labor Party to retain ASIO than the particular aspect about whether or not the cost to which the honourable senator has adverted is too great. I feel that if it was only by one vote that the governing body of the Australian Labor Party decided to retain our security watchdogs, the Australian people ought to view with concern the possibility that one vote would change ai the next conference.







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