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Wednesday, 23 October 2002
Page: 5714

Senator MARSHALL (2:00 PM) —My question is to Senator Hill, the Minister for Defence. I refer to the minister's comment this morning on Radio National that he `didn't know' whether the government received intelligence from Australian intelligence agencies on conversations they are reported to have intercepted between Jemaah Islamiah operatives, in which there was discussion of attacks on Australians. Has the minister had a chance to confirm whether this intelligence was in fact obtained? Can the minister inform the Senate what action was taken by his department after receiving this intelligence? Will the minister also indicate whether this intelligence was obtained before the bombings in Bali on 12 October?

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) —I have now been advised that the relevant Australian agency and its US counterpart searched their databases this morning and have not found a report matching that mentioned in the media out of Washington.

Senator MARSHALL —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Will the minister request the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Mr Bill Blick, to examine this specific intelligence as part of his inquiry into what information was available to the government before the terrible bombing in Bali?

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) —As the Senate and all Australians know, that is the task that has been put to the inspector-general: to search the records of the agencies, to reassess their assessments, to give confidence that there was not something that was missed and, beyond that, to see if there is anything that can be learnt from this experience. In addition to what I have just said to the Senate, the agencies, in searching their records, have also identified no material that specifically warned of the Bali attack.