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Tuesday, 11 April 1972
Page: 914

Senator WEBSTER - I ask a question of the Attorney-General. I refer to the confinement of Commonwealth prisoners. I ask the Minister whether it is a fact that the Commonwealth prisoner, Gary Cook, without authorisation by any prison regulation in Western Australia, has been allowed out of gaol unaccompanied on one day a week. Does this action affect the control which the Commonwealth may wish to exercise in relation to Commonwealth prisoners? Further, is it only since the advent of the Australian Labor Parly Government in Western Australia that court warrants issued on behalf of the Commonwealth have not been executed by the Western Australian State police? Is this action unique to Western Australia?

Senator GREENWOOD - As I understand the prison regulations of Western Australia - and I have looked at them - there is no power under them whereby a person who is imprisoned may be given leave of absence from prison to study or to go to a university, though he may be given leave of absence for other purposes. This matter has been raised in the Senate before and I then gave an assurance - I think to Senator Durack - that I would write to the Chief Secretary of Western Australia seeking some explanation as to why this apparently favoured treatment was given to a person who is in gaol for breach of the National Service Act. I still have not received a reply from the Chief Secretary, though I am expecting that I will receive such a reply at some stage.

On the other aspect to which the honourable senator refers, it is a fact that instructions were given to Western Australian policemen. From what source those instructions were given, I am unable to say. Some instructions-

Senator Cant - You were told.

The PRESIDENT - Order!

Senator GREENWOOD - 1 was saying that instructions were given to Western Australian policemen, though from what source I am unable to say. The Police Commissioner of Western Australia has indicated that he has given some instructions. They would appear, from his published statement, to be different from the instructions which I know have been given. According to the Press report which I saw, the Minister responsible for police in Western Australia has denied that any instructions at all were given. But the simple point is - and I have documentary evidence of this - that instructions were available to policemen that they were not to execute Commonwealth warrants in regard to National Service Act offenders and that those warrants should be passed on to the Commonwealth Police for execution. As far as I am aware, no such action has been taken in any other State.

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