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Thursday, 26 September 2002
Page: 4996

Senator BUCKLAND (2:09 PM) —My question is directed at the Minister for Defence, Senator Hill. What action does the minister propose to take in response to the allegations relating to the Defence Signals Directorate which were published on the front page of the Daily Telegraph and the Adelaide Advertiser this morning? Will the minister refer these allegations for investigation to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security or, alternatively, to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on ASIO, ASIS and DSD?

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) —There is obviously someone in DSD who is unhappy. It appears that his or her unhappiness goes back a long way. That person has chosen to complain to a journalist who has blown it up into a huge headline `Spies sex scandal.' If that person had a real complaint, I would have thought that that person would have made the complaint to the head of the department. No such complaint has been made to Dr Hawke during his three years in office. If he or she did not want to make a complaint to Dr Hawke, they would be well aware of the statutory protection that exists—that is, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security—and they would have been able to make the complaint to the Inspector-General. He has not made a complaint to the Inspector-General. If he regards the Inspector-General as an insider and for some reason feels uncomfortable about doing that, he could have even complained to the minister—because nobody says that I am an insider—but he has not chosen to do that either. So on the basis of what I have seen to date, I do not see any reason for an independent inquiry.

Senator BUCKLAND —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. If the minister regards these allegations as gossip, as he stated on the ABC radio this morning, what action does he propose to take to prevent such gossip being leaked to the media from a key part of Australia's intelligence community?

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) —I am yet to find a way to avoid gossip being leaked to journalists. I have to confess my failure in that regard.