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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 15

(Question No. 1375)

Senator Jones asked the Minister representing the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 18 September 1986:

(1) What has been the extent of the Australian Government's effort to establish whether or not Dr Waldheim is in fact a war criminal, or to establish that he was not.

(2) Are intelligence efforts regarding Dr Waldheim still being undertaken by the Australian Government in regard to Dr Waldheim's wartime activities between 1939 and 1945.

(3) Has the Minister for Foreign Affairs' attention been drawn to claims made by a British Labour Party member of Parliament, Mr Greville Jenner, that Dr Waldheim interrogated or authorised the interrogation of an Australian Prisoner of War, Private Leo Rice of the Special Boat Squadron; if so, what information is now available to the Australian Government on (a) the result of the investigation; and (b) the fate of Private Rice.

(4) Should President Waldheim seek to visit Australia now or at any time in the future, will he be given the right of entry to this country.

Senator Gareth Evans —The Minister for Foreign Affairs has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

(1) In June 1986 the Government established a Review of Material Relating to the Entry of Suspected War Criminals into Australia. The alleged wartime activities of Dr Waldheim do not, however, come within the ambit of the Review.

(2) It is the long-standing practice of the Australian Government not to provide information which would confirm or deny speculation on security and intelligence matters.

(3) I am aware of the claims made by Mr Janner. My Department has been advised by the British authorities that they have no evidence in their records of criminal activity on the part of Dr Waldheim in relation to Private Rice. Private Rice had been posted missing presumed dead.

(4) Australia maintains friendly relations with Austria. Dr Waldheim was democratically elected by an absolute majority in the June 1986 Presidential election run-off. The allegations against him have not been tested under any legal process. In Australia it is presumed that a person is innocent unless proven guilty. In these circumstances, the usual entry considerations would apply should it be proposed that Dr Waldheim visit Australia.