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Thursday, 17 November 1960

Mr Cairns s asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -

1.   Was it stated by the Acting AttorneyGeneral during the absence of the AttorneyGeneral that the security service was operating as laid down under the Chifley Government?

2.   Is it a fact that - (a) the Chifley Government placed the security service under the control of a Supreme Court judge; (b) the present Government almost immediately replaced the judge with a serving military officer who was promoted to the rank of brigadier whilst in charge of the security service and after four years service as an Army officer; (c) this officer remained on the active list from his appointment to the security service on the 17th July, 1950, to the 15th June, 1954, after which he was placed on the reserve of officers; and (d) no question of inquiry into security reports or appeal for those affected by them arose under the Chifley Government?

Sir Garfield Barwick - The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows: -

1.   No. 2. (a) It is a fact that the South Australian Government made available to the Chifley Government for one year (later extended at the request of the present Government) the services of a judge of the Supreme Court of the State to act as Director-General of Security at the inauguration of the re-organized security service. But the honorable member should know that none of the occupants of the office of Director or DirectorGeneral of Security during the preceding eight years of Labour Government were judges, (b) No. The honorable member should have read more carefully the letter from Mr. Brian Fitzpatrick in the " Age " of 13th October last on which he has apparently relied, (c) Yes. When he was appointed for an initial term as Director-General of Security, Colonel Spry was merely seconded from the Army in which he was a career officer (he graduated from Duntroon in 1931). It is normal practice that promotion of officers continues while they are seconded, otherwise they might face supersession through no fault of their own. The Director-General was thus promoted brigadier while still seconded to the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, (d) There are possibly a number of persons, including senior officers of the Commonwealth, who have first-hand knowledge of the matters attendant on the establishment by Mr. Chifley of the Australian Intelligence Organization, and of the matters discussed and decisions taken by Mr. Chifley. I do not feel called upon, for the purposes of answering the honorable member's question, to endeavour to ascertain what matters of policy were considered by its predecessors in office.

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