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Friday, 2 December 1983
Page: 3232

Senator WATSON —I direct my question to the Attorney-General. Will the Government's request to Mr Justice Hope to inquire into the Australian Secret Intelligence Service incident at the Sheraton Hotel include the possibility of a deliberate attempt to discredit Australian's security service? Will the Government table the exact terms of its request to the Royal Commissioner?

Senator GARETH EVANS —I must admit the thought did cross my mind that there may have been some infiltration of ASIS by the socialist Left as being the only possible explanation that had any rationality about it of the events of Wednesday night. I have no idea whether any attempt has been made to discredit the security organisations that may have been reflected in the course of events which Mr Justice Hope will inquire into. But I assure the honourable senator that the terms of reference of Mr Justice Hope's inquiry in this respect are undoubtedly wide enough as they presently stand to enable him to satisfy himself and, in turn I believe the Parliament, as to whether there is any justification for that kind of suspicion.

Senator WATSON —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Will the Attorney- General table in the Senate the exact terms of the request to the Royal Commissioner?

Senator GARETH EVANS —Since I have been so pre-occupied this morning with the Commonwealth Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill, I have not caught up with the formal developments in this respect.

As I understand it, the view has been taken by the Government that parts A and B of the existing terms of reference of the Royal Commission on Australia's Security and Intelligence Agencies are perfectly wide enough to accommodate the inquiry in question, because Mr Justice Hope would, in the ordinary course, have been dealing with ASIS and this is obviously something within that larger frame of reference. As to the particular matters to which he was asked to address his attention, I think the answer of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Hayden, in the House of Representatives yesterday, which I read into the record in the Senate, indicates the range of matters on which Mr Justice Hope is being specifically asked to focus. But if there is any further information I can give the honourable senator, and, indeed, the Senate in this respect, if there have been any further developments this morning, I will do so as soon as possible.