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Monday, 10 September 1984
Page: 686

Senator BUTTON —I wish to inform the Senate that Senator Gietzelt is ill and absent from the chamber today. Any questions that would normally be directed to Senator Gietzelt are to be directed to Senator Grimes.


Senator DURACK —I refer the Attorney-General to answers he gave on Friday last concerning his correspondence and relations with the former Special Prosecutor, Mr Redlich, the majority of which he tabled on Friday. He referred us to the National Times to ascertain the contents of another of the letters. The Attorney will recall assuring the Senate that as at 25 January this year all was, in his own words, 'sweetness and light' between him and Mr Redlich. However, I refer the Attorney to the last paragraph of Mr Redlich's letter of 25 January-this letter was tabled-in which Mr Redlich noted that no one from the Attorney- General's Department had been in contact with him on several important issues and that this had happened notwithstanding the shabby treatment of which he had complained in his letter of 7 December, the letter that was not tabled and for which the Attorney referred us to the National Times. Does the Attorney-General agree with Mr Redlich that this shabby treatment by the Attorney-General's Department was deserving of censure? Has the Attorney investigated Mr Redlich's serious allegation and, if so, has any action been taken within the Department?

Senator GARETH EVANS —As I said in tabling and incorporating the correspondence last Friday, it was my belief, and that was confirmed by Mr Redlich's response to me of 25 January, that all outstanding matters between us had been resolved and, to the extent that there was a belief that there had been matters which could have been better handled in the Department, Mr Redlich was not inclined to the view that there was any further action required on my part or on the Department's part in that respect. Accordingly, I have not felt it appropriate, then or subsequently or in the light of last week's discussion, to do any further follow up because I am quite satisfied that the matters were properly handled at the time. To the extent that there was dissatisfaction by Mr Redlich with the way in which matters had been handled in the Department, I believed, and still believe, that was largely as a result of misunderstandings rather than anything worse. My impressions in that regard have been subsequently reinforced by a letter that I received today from Mr Redlich, but I have not yet had an opportunity to discuss with him whether he feels it would be appropriate for me to put it into the public record. I will have that discussion. The letter is headed 'Confidential'. There are some obvious aspects of the letter which I would need to check with him before I put them in the public domain. However, I think it is, nonetheless, appropriate in the context of last week's questions and today's question from Senator Durack to quote two sentences from that letter . The first sentence states:

As to the correspondence, I should say that I have given the subject matter of that correspondence no further thoughts since February of this year when the matters troubling us appeared to have been resolved to our mutual satisfaction.

Again, the final sentence of the letter states:

I understand that you have corrected the misapprehension that our working relationship was less than satisfactory and I endorse all that you have said in that regard.

Under the circumstances, I do not believe that there is any further action that is either necessary, desirable or required in the course of events to which Senator Durack referred.

Senator Chaney —I rise on a point of order. Under standing order 363 a document quoted from--

Senator GARETH EVANS —I made a claim of confidentiality in respect of it.

Senator Chaney —Yes. I just wanted to give notice, Mr President, that, given the Attorney-General's undertaking to consider the question of release, the Opposition would not propose to take action on that. We would simply ask him to give early consideration to advising the Senate whether that letter will be released.

The PRESIDENT —As I understand it, the Attorney-General claimed confidentiality.

Senator GARETH EVANS —That is exactly what I said I would do, and Senator Chaney 's contribution is entirely redundant accordingly.