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Wednesday, 26 March 1941

Senator AMOUR (New South Wales) - byleave- I desire to bring under the notice of the Senate what I consider to be an unwarranted evasion of questions that I have asked in this chamber concerning Mr. E. M. R. Lewis, who has accompanied Sir Bertram Stevens, leader of the Australian delegation to Delhi as his personal secretary. Lack of frankness in answer to questions, asked purely for the purpose of obtaining information in the public interest, is, to my mind - and I think honorable senators will agree with me - much to be deplored, and is calculated at all times to cause unnecessarily serious conclusions to be drawn. It is quite definite, at least, that any suspicion that may be harboured in the first place must, of course, he accentuated by patent evasion. With regard to Mr. Lewis, I asked, among other things, whether the Investigation Branch of the Attormey-General's Department had had occasion at any time to pay attention to the alleged alien affiliations of Mr. Lewis. In his reply the Minister, Senator McLeay, who represents the Attorney-General in this chamber, said that the Investigation Branch had never 'been asked to make inquiries regarding either Mr. Lewis or his associations. Strangely, the Minister went on to say, " Even if such inquiry had been made, the nature of the inquiry would not, in accordance with the established practice, be made public ".

Apart from the established practice, I claim that the Australian public is entitled to know the credentials of any person appointed to a position of public trust in our war organization. Mr. Lewis may be a very worthy gentleman, and I asked questions concerning him solely to clear my mind of suspicions that havebeen raised. But, in answer to the most vital of my questions, which concerned the interest of the Commonwealth in Mr. Lewis's political activities, I was told only a half-truth.

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