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Wednesday, 13 September 1972
Page: 740

Senator O'BYRNE (TASMANIA) - I direct my question to the Attorney-General. Is the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation using complex laser beam devices to eavesdrop on private conversations from distance as far as 2 miles,' and sometimes further? Do these devices pick up sound vibrations through windows? If so, what guarantee have members of Parliament, especially members of the Opposition, that their private conversations are not being recorded by laser beams focused from ASIO headquarters at a distance on the windows of their offices? Can the Attorney-General give an unequivocal assurance that such use has not been made and is not being made of those listening devices? Is their purchase at very high cost the reason why ASIO's budget rose so dramatically in the last financial year?

The PRESIDENT - Order! It has been the custom of the Parliament not to require an answer from the AttorneyGeneral or the Minister representing the Attorney-General in the context of matters that relate to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. It is for the judgment of the Attorney-General whether he wishes to answer this question.

Senator GREENWOOD - I have indicated that I will not depart from the practice of not answering questions relating to the activities of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. However I did notice a newspaper headline this morning which gave prominence to an allegation which suggested that eavesdropping was occurring. Accordingly I have made inquiries and I can assure the Senate that, on the information available to me, that newspaper article is totally false. No official of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has spoken to any person suggesting what was contained in that newspaper report. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation does not use and has not used any of the devices which it is suggested in the newspaper eould be used. Therefore 1 repeat that the newspaper article, for whatever reason it was published, was a totally false report.

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