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Thursday, 22 November 1973
Page: 2052


Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral and Minister for Customs and Excise) - The first reading of such a Bill as this can be used for stating matters which are irrelevant as well as matters which are relevant. A lot has been stated here this morning. I have not heard it all but I have heard some of what was said about searches of premises in April this year by Commonwealth and New South Wales police. A lot of it was not only irrelevant to the debate before the House on the Appropriation Bill -


Senator Webster - That is an unfair statement, senator.


Senator MURPHY - It was also irrelevant -


Senator Webster - It has not got to be relevant.


Senator MURPHY - It was also irrelevant to the truth. The matters which have been raised today have been dealt with before. I do not want to go into the matters which have been dealt with by the Senate Select Committee on the Civil Rights of Migrant Australians but a lot of the matters which have been referred to have been the subject of evidence given before that Committee. I simply state what I have said in the House previously in relation to the searches that were conducted. I in no way participated in the decisions as to which homes were to be searched or on what grounds this was to be done; I had nothing to do with the matter. This was dealt with by New South Wales Police and, so far as the Commonwealth Police Force was concerned, between the Commonwealth Police Force and the Deputy Crown Solicitor- there may have been more than one officer of the Department. I in no way knew on what evidence the searches were based. I in no way took any part in the decisions taken in respect of what was regarded by them as an important police matter.

Any assumptions that have been put forward that there was no evidence of commission of certain crimes should be taken with a great deal of reserve. I merely say to the Senate that already offers have been made by me to supply counsel 's opinion in respect of certain matters to the Committee. I will say no more on that subject. It is quite unfortunate that such matters should be discussed in this way in an endeavour to perpetuate a party political atmosphere about whether or not there is evidence to substantiate a prosecution for a criminal offence. There are other matters stated -


Senator Wright - Do you not accept ministerial responsibility?


Senator MURPHY -Of course, and it would behove the honourable senator to refer to the great discussions which took place several years ago, I think in the time of Attorney-General Hughes, on the nature and extent of ministerial responsibility and to other statements which have been made on that subject.







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