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Monday, 25 March 1985
Page: 803


Mr SPENDER —I refer the Attorney-General to the allegations made by retired police officer Williams on the National program of 22 March when, asked why immunity would not be given to the police officers we have been talking about recently, he said:

There's too many high ranking and famous persons involved in these tapes. We're dealing with the judicial system of New South Wales, the parliamentary system in New South Wales, the organised crime system of New South Wales and Australia. It applies to all Australians.

In view of that charge, I ask the Acting Prime Minister: Has he reconsidered the question of granting immunity to police officers so that these matters can be investigated? If he has not, why not? Has he been in contact with Mr Williams for the purpose of checking those allegations? If he has not, why not? What steps has he taken to identify the famous people referred to by Mr Williams and others he claims to be involved in preventing indemnities from being given?


Mr LIONEL BOWEN —The honourable gentleman is a little confused in respect of the question of indemnities, because they relate to the authenticity of the Age tapes in the period 1976 to 1981. In other words, there is a whole special set of documents particularly related to the Clark- Asia syndicate. They were referred to. It is in--


Mr Spender —Which is what Williams has been talking about.


Mr LIONEL BOWEN —No, it is not. If the honourable member looks at what Williams was talking about he will see that he was talking about current matters. The honourable member might notice that Williams said that he was talking about up to date matters. I would think it was elementary, as the honourable gentleman would know, that the request for indemnities has nothing to do with any matter other than the period of what is called the Age tapes, which is 1976 to 1981. So on that basis the problem with the Age tapes is what I have already said to the Leader of the Opposition. When an inquiry was made of the Federal and New South Wales authorities as to whether any police had been involved in the interception, they answered no. Every police officer concerned was sent a questionnaire and all answered no. It will be noticed that in the Temby report from the point of view of where there was evidence the tapes had been given to the Federal Police-that is a matter of record in this Parliament-they were saying that they were unaware as to whether the tapes related to any intercept. So the indemnity was a new matter that arose in respect of old material that has already been well used. The other point at issue-what happened with Mr Williams-is a matter for Mr Justice Stewart to consider in the light of his overall commission as head of the National Crime Authority.