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Friday, 1 June 1984
Page: 2381

Senator DURACK(3.10) —During the hearing of Estimates Committee E I asked the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) some questions in relation to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. I direct the Attorney-General's attention to page 243 of the Senate Hansard of 3 May 1984. At the hearing of Senate Estimates Committee E I was asking the Attorney-General about the terms of the appointment of Mr Temby, the Director of Public Prosecutions. In his reply Senator Evans said:

He is now based in Canberra following an initial transition period which, I think, is now complete.

Later Senator Evans said that there was a transition period because of the relative speed with which Mr Temby had been appointed. It was then agreed that there be a protracted transition period of some months into this year, thus enabling Mr Temby to make more trips between Canberra and his home in Perth until he got himself established in Canberra. I asked questions also about the extent to which Mr Temby had been travelling to Perth. Senator Evans gave this assurance:

There is not a whiff of scandal here. We have not been very generous at all, I can assure you, but we will do our best to tell you what we can.

I then received from Mr Glare some further information which had been promised to me, although the Attorney-General does not seem to read the answers to questions that are provided by his Department. Maybe he has read this answer. At all events, I hope he has. In that answer, which is dated 24 May and addressed to the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Glare states:

As the Attorney-General explained to the Committee . . . because of the short notice Mr Temby had of the appointment, it was acknowledged that in the short term there would be a fair amount of travel between Canberra and Perth. It was understood that as far as possible such travel would be combined with work arising from his position as Director of Public Prosecutions and in fact all such travel to date has included work in his official capacity.

I am interested to receive more details about that point. Mr Temby was appointed on 5 March and this letter was written on 24 May. I would like to know how many trips in fact Mr Temby made to Perth in the intervening period and to what extent they were related to work in his official capacity. That is one aspect of the answer that intrigues me. The Attorney-General obviously was under the impression that this transitional period had been completed. He said that the Government was not being generous at all in relation to this matter, and that certainly there was not a whiff of scandal involved. I am sure there was no scandal, and I have never suggested that there was any scandal. I am not suggesting now that there is any scandal. What I am interested in-I started my remarks by asking this-is what were the terms of these arrangements. I was not provided with an answer to that question, and I still have not been given an answer by Mr Glare. He concluded this interesting letter by saying:

Negotiations are under way for a more formal arrangement.

That indicates that these transitional arrangements are still on foot and that an informal arrangement covering the transitional period is still to be entered into. That is the only way in which I can interpret the answer. Perhaps the Attorney-General can clarify the matter, or perhaps he reads that answer in a different way. The situation is highly ambiguous. It is totally unsatisfactory for the Estimates Committee. The answer provided is unsatisfactory for the consideration of this Committee, which has to approve the estimates of the Department. The situation is that on 3 May-that is, two months after Mr Temby had taken up his position and, I think, three months after he was appointed- neither the Attorney-General nor Mrs Higgins, who was the officer who attended the Estimates Committee hearing, could answer my question about the terms of Mr Temby's appointment. I find that unbelievable. Now, almost a month after that Estimates Committee hearing on 3 May, we are still in the dark about the whole matter. Mr Glare's letter raises even more questions than I asked. All we have is a statement that negotiations are still going on. Unbelievably, many serious questions remain unanswered. I hope that the Attorney-General can clear up this matter here and now before the Committee is asked to vote on this appropriation.