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Wednesday, 6 June 1984
Page: 2615

Senator MacGIBBON —My question is directed to the Attorney-General. It relates to the comments by Mr Richard Farmer on Nationwide last night and to the Attorney's statement in the Senate this morning. I refer particularly to that part of the Attorney's explanation when he said that in discussions with Mr Frank Costigan:

The possibility of a Federal Court appointment was canvassed.

I ask: Presuming that the possibility of a judicial appointment was raised by the Attorney-General and not by Mr Costigan, was it mentioned in the direct context of Mr Costigan becoming a judge and heading the proposed National Crime Authority? Was the reason for discussing this matter related to achieving cost savings or did it reflect the Attorney's view that Mr Costigan would be an eminently suitable person to head the Authority? Did the Attorney in his discussions with Mr Costigan on the cost of the Royal Commission on the Activities of the Ship Painters and Dockers Union, also voice his concern about the effectiveness of Mr Costigan's methodology and the lack of positive prosecution follow-up? Does the Attorney agree that any such criticism of the Commission might have led Mr Costigan to believe that there was an attempt to nobble him by putting him on the Federal Bench?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I made a statement by way of personal explanation on this matter this morning and I do not propose to add to that in any way. It is unnecessary for me to do so. To do so would be to explore matters that, as I said this morning, are essentially and quite properly the subject of confidential communications between the parties involved. I mention only for the record that Mr Costigan has now put out a Press statement of his own this morning in Melbourne, without any communication between us on the subject matter , which in fact reinforces the substance of what I said in my statement this morning.

Senator MacGIBBON —I ask a supplementary question, Mr President. In the light of what the Attorney said, would he amplify the statement in his address this morning that Mr Costigan wrote to the Prime Minister saying, among other things, that the suggestion of a Federal judicial appointment was outrageous. Will he explain where the outrageous element came from?

Senator GARETH EVANS —No, I will not amplify the statement.