Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 29 March 1973
Page: 851

Mr ANTHONY (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask a question of the Prime Minister. Did the Prime Minister authorise Senator Murphy's raid on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation? Did he authorise Senator Murphy to take possession of any goods or property in the possession of ASIO, a Commonwealth authority? Is it a fact that while the Prime Minister has refused to say whether or not he authorised Senator Murphy's raid he has left, and is leaving, the Attorney-General open to a charge under section 30 of the Crimes Act relating to the taking possession of goods or property of Commonwealth authorities by an unauthorised person? Does the Prime Minister agree that while he continues to refuse to give an explanation for his part in this matter he is leaving the Attorney-General vulnerable to action before the High Court?

Mr WHITLAM - I stated days ago that I did not know that the Attorney-General was going to visit the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation headquarters in Melbourne on Friday week. I had not only authorised, but directed, the Attorney-General from his first week in office to do what his predecessors conspicuously failed to do - to follow up departmental and ministerial reports on the growth of terrorist activities in Australia and the threat that they represented not only to all Australians but to migrants in particular and to our relations with a country with which we have had unbroken relations since 1918 and of which we have been an ally in 2 wars. The right honourable member for Lowe is interjecting. I have seen his comments on this matter to previous-

Mr McMahon - They are published.

Mr WHITLAM - Not all; not fully. If he wishes me to do so I will publish them. They do him credit. I regret to say that the man whom he appointed as Attorney-General was not loyal to his suggestions as Prime Minister and formerly as Foreign Minister. I do not demur in any respect, as far as I remember the papers, from what the right honourable gentleman tried to do in this matter as Foreign Minister and later as Prime Minister. His Ministers did not support him.

Mr Anthony - Have you at any time given authority to Senator Murphy to take possession of goods? I ask the Prime Minister to answer the question.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The right honourable gentleman has asked his question.

Mr WHITLAM - The right honourable gentleman who interjected was once the Deputy Prime Minister of this country. I do not believe that he did his duty to see what the terms and conditions are under which the present Director-General of ASIO was appointed or under which the previous Director-General of ASIO was appointed.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! Will the Prime Minister address the Chair please?

Mr Anthony - The Attorney-General acted without authority and he has broken the law.


Mr WHITLAM - I would much prefer a rational to a rabid countenance and I will look at you, Mr Speaker, for the rest of my answer. The Attorney-General has broken no law. This Attorney-General has in fact obeyed and applied the law. Not only that, but the former Deputy Prime Minister, the present third most important man in the Opposition, has made allegations which have no basis in the statutes or the regulations which are' public property or in the terms and conditions of employment of the Director-General of ASIO which have not hitherto been public property. The Attorney-General is ministerially responsible for the Director-General of ASIO. The Director-General of ASIO has to comply with directions of the Attorney-General. These facts are plain from the terms and conditions under which the Director-General was appointed - appointed pursuant to statute. The AttorneyGeneral is completely entitled to discuss any of these matters with the Director-General, and he has done so. The Attorney-General has broken no law. He is doing his best to apply the law despite the smokescreen raised by the

Opposition here and in the Senate. Pursuant to the policy of open Opposition, I notice that the Opposition Parties have informed the Press that they will concentrate questions and statements on the actions of the present Attorney-General over 6 or 9 hours a couple of weeks ago to deflect attention from the inaction of themselves over the previous 6 or 9 years.

Suggest corrections