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Monday, 25 March 1985
Page: 801

Mr PEACOCK —My question is directed to the Attorney-General. What has the Government done to ascertain the contents of the post-1981 tapes? Has the Attorney had discussions with the New South Wales Government with respect to these tapes? In particular, are any prosecutions envisaged?

Mr LIONEL BOWEN —No. The information has come to the Government's knowledge through the Royal Commissioner, and at this stage he has not finished his report. It was an observation that was made. The honourable member will know that during the weekend there was, I think, a national telecast showing a person saying that in some respects the interceptions are continuing, which is of grave concern to me.

Mr Peacock —You said: 'January 1984'. He said: 'At the end of last year'.

Mr LIONEL BOWEN —Yes, and I said it because of other information. At this stage I think the matter is within the hands of Mr Justice Stewart. I would be anxious to get a further report from him as and when we can arrange for that to be done.

Mr Peacock —Are you not prepared to discuss the matter with the New South Wales Government beforehand?

Mr LIONEL BOWEN —I thought it would be better to discuss it with Mr Justice Stewart, from the point of view that that is the information that appeared to have come to him. I hope he might be able to give us some more information as to what should be done to prevent this illegal conduct.

Mr Sinclair —But you are the Minister.

Mr LIONEL BOWEN —Yes, but I make the point that he has a royal commission to deal with this matter and it is apparently in the course of that investigation that he is able to make some assessment of the situation. As the honourable member knows, he has not finished that inquiry.