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Thursday, 8 December 1983
Page: 3513

Senator BOLKUS —I refer the Attorney-General to a decision in the High Court of Australia last Friday ruling that the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation produce documents relevant to a Mr Seary, a key witness at the trial of three members of the Ananda Marga religious sect. I note that the Court further provided that the Attorney-General could object to the production of the documents or of any one of the documents. In view of the obvious importance of these considerations to the fair trial of the three people involved and in light of the Attorney-General's stated position on these matters, can he say whether or when he will make any such documents available to the High Court?

Senator GARETH EVANS —It is not my intention to object to the production of any documents that ASIO may prove to have that bear upon the subject matter of this trial. Some attention is being given at the moment to digging out such material as there may be on this and I understand something will come to me in the form of a draft affidavit either later today or tomorrow. That has always been my position in relation to the production of documents. I know that the previous Attorney-General took a different view. I thought it was appropriate for that view to be tested in the High Court in order that the fundamental issues of public policy that were here involved might be resolved.

Senator Durack —Do you mean you have made up your mind without seeing the document?

Senator GARETH EVANS —Okay, I will insert a further phrase-on what I know about the nature of any documents that might be possessed and the way in which those documents have been reported to me. It is not my intention to take the threshold objection in principle that Senator Durack took, that not under any circumstances should any document coming from within ASIO be produced to the Court. I do not happen to share that particular view of the world.