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Thursday, 13 September 1984
Page: 1246

Mr JACOBI —I address my question to the Prime Minister; and this matter ought to occupy the Fourth Estate for some time to come. In the light of recent media speculation, can the Prime Minister advise when the Petrov records will be released?

Mr HAWKE —Not only will the Fourth Estate be interested; will those opposite, who have this desperate desire for early and immediate release, be interested. Under normal circumstances, the records of the Royal Commission on Espionage-which is colloquially referred to as the Petrov Royal Commission-would be progressively released over the next three years. However, I am very pleased to be able to inform the House that I have approved arrangements allowing for the accelerated release as a single package of the records of the royal commission, related Cabinet material and contemporaneous Prime Minister's departmental files. That will be done on Monday, 24 September 1984.

Opposition members interjecting-

Mr HAWKE —I am glad to see the approbation with which that announcement is greeted by honourable members opposite. Of course extensive consideration has been given to whether any material should be exempted under the provisions of section 33 of the Archives Act.

Mr SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Curtin and the honourable member for O'Connor shall cease their conversation.

Mr HAWKE —They cannot hide their glee and anticipation. After that extensive consideration about the provisions of section 33 of the Archives Act, I am very pleased to say that, in the end, nothing that affects the meaning or the historical substance of the records has been withheld. Obviously, there will be a great deal of interest in these records. Therefore, in anticipation of this interest, the Australian Archives is preparing multiple copies of the key documents and these will be available on 24 September at the Mitchell, Australian Capital Territory, office of the Archives.