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Wednesday, 31 May 1972
Page: 2314

Senator CARRICK (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I address my question to the Attorney-General. Is it a fact that Mr Charles Griffiths, M.P., yesterday submitted to the Attorney-General a series of documents for his perusal? Did Mr Griffiths allege that such documents supported his statement in another place that there had been fraud, blackmail, conspiracy and forgery in the conduct of various Australian Labor Party pre-selection ballots for Shortland? If these are facts, in view of the extreme gravity of such charges will the Attorney-General advise the Parliament what steps should be taken to establish the truth or otherwise of the matters alleged?

Senator GREENWOOD - It is a fact that Mr Griffiths saw me yesterday and that we discussed matters which had been the subject of a statement by him in the House of Representatives. Mr Griffiths had sought me out because I had said, following his statement in the House of Representatives, that if there was material which suggested the commission of criminal offences, it was obligatory upon any person to facilitate police inquiries into those matters. 1 had a discussion with Mr Griffiths. He showed me a number of documents and I said to him that I would make a statement after our conversation had concluded. I make the statement that those documents revealed to me a situation which is of a political character, a situation within the Australian Labor Party which I have no doubt from what I saw and what I was told indicates that there has been conduct of the general character to which Mr Griffiths referred.

Senator Murphy - Mr President, I take a point of order. The Attorney-General has been asked a question by the honourable senator. Questions may be directed to the Attorney-General in his capacity as Minister dealing with the law and justice of the Commonwealth. The Attorney-General has already indicated by his answer that the matter raised by Senator Carrick has nothing to do with the public responsibilities of the Attorney-General. Therefore I submit that the matter is not within the proper scope of questions to be asked of the Attorney-General and is not to be used as a means of attack upon another political party.

The PRESIDENT - There is no substance in the point of order for the simple reason that Mr Griffiths, the member in another place, sought out the Attorney-

General in order to provide him with evidence of what Mr Griffiths appeared to consider was activity of a criminal nature. The Attorney-General seems to be embarking on an explanation. As far as he is concerned there is no criminality involved. As Attorney-General he is entitled to give an answer to the question asked by Senator Carrick. The Attorney-General- will proceed.

Senator GREENWOOD - I was saying that I had indicated to Mr Griffiths - this is what I told him 1 would say afterwards - that there did appear to be within the Australian Labor Party a situation of a general character which he had outlined but that because it was a political matter it was not an area of which I could take any cognisance. It was a matter for him and for the people in the Party to which he belonged to take such action as they thought fit. On the other aspect as to whether there was any evidence of a criminal offence having occurred, I indicated to him that there was a matter which could be investigated by the police because there were suggestions that perhaps false statements had been sworn contrary to the provisions of the law in New South Wales and that his inquiries should be made in that direction. 1 told Mr Griffiths that this is the sort of statement I would make after our conversation concluded. He appreciated that it was a fair assessment of the situation as we had discussed it.

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