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Monday, 3 November 2003
Page: 21732

Mr RUDD (2:27 PM) —My question is to the Attorney-General. I refer to the statement attributed to Gilles Leclair, controller-general of France's main-counter terrorism unit, the UCLAT, that French intelligence had `worked on the Brigitte case for some years' and that `he'—Brigitte—`was on our national database'. Given that it is now more than two years since September 11 and more than one year since Bali, will the Attorney-General inform the parliament what action the government has taken during this period to obtain access to the French national terrorism database to prevent al-Qaeda suspects in France from being issued with tourism visas to Australia as the Howard government has just done in the Brigitte case?

Mr RUDDOCK (Attorney-General) —It is not the case that countries have at any time routinely exchanged their full databases in relation to people of potential concern—that has never been the case. It is not the case that Australia shares information with other countries about every Australian who has ever come to the attention of ASIO—that is not the case. And if you think it is the case that countries ought to adopt a standard whereby every person who has ever come to the attention of a security agency ought to be advised to other countries with a view to prohibiting or limiting their access to travel, let us see whether you are prepared to do it—let us see whether that is what you are going to advocate—because the implications are very significant.

The situation is that in relation to this matter we received advice from France on 22 September initially drawing to our attention that they had an interest in Mr Brigitte and that they thought he might have come to Australia. We received further advice on 7 October that he was a person of significant concern to them. That was the time at which it was raised with us as a matter of some importance. Thereafter, within two days, the person had been located, taken into immigration detention, questioned and, on 17 October, removed. I think it is a demonstrable success of cooperation—an undoubted success.

Mr Rudd —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The point of order is on relevance. The question was about what happened in May, not what happened in—

The SPEAKER —The member for Griffith will resume his seat. Has the Attorney concluded his answer?

Mr RUDDOCK —Yes, Mr Speaker.