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Wednesday, 29 February 1984
Page: 138

Senator TEAGUE —I ask the Attorney-General whether at either of his interviews with the judge referred to in the Age tapes the judge specifically denied that during a conversation with a Sydney solicitor he had discussed an alderman on a Sydney suburban council. Did the judge deny that he had, in his conversation with the solicitor, referred to the alderman as one who frequented 'one of those gay restaurants where all these homosexuals hang out' and that this knowledge should be used to denigrate the alderman's public position? If he did not deny the conversation what justification or explanation did he give the Attorney- General for what appears to be uncivilised persecution on his part and a deplorable contempt for the privacy and civil liberties of another citizen?

Senator GARETH EVANS —My answer to that question is exactly the same as the answer to the question asked by Senator Jessop. In the context that there may have been a discussion, whether it was precisely a discussion of the kind alleged in the tapes in the report of the newspaper is very much another question but to the extent that there may have been a discussion it was very much in the context of a solicitor-client type discussion which would, I believe , be covered by legal professional privilege. It is also the case that this is one of the matters in which the circumstances of any exchange that may have occurred is much better understood when one appreciates the total context in which the exchange may have taken place.

Senator Lewis —Tell us.

Senator GARETH EVANS —I do not propose to satisfy the salacious and politically motivated curiosity of those on the other side of the chamber in that respect. As I said yesterday-I repeat it again today-beyond a certain limited degree of detail which it is always proper to give in answer to questions in this place, I do not believe that in the circumstances of this matter the onus of explanation lies upon the target of an attack when the attack is made, as this one has been, in the context of material which is manifestly unauthenticated as I described earlier and which clearly to the extent that it is authentic was obtained in circumstances of gross illegality, amounting obviously to a spectacular and massive invasion of privacy of personal communications, involving as it also does a scurrilous attack upon the judiciary and individual members of it of the kind that has become par for the course for this Opposition.

Mr Fraser started the slippery slide with his attacks on the judiciary in the context of the Woodward Royal Commission into Drug Trafficking last year, responding as he did in tones and terms of unparalleled rudeness and disrespect to the judiciary in criticising the terms of what was then an unpalatable report . We saw the Deputy Leader of this raggle taggle coalition making a fool of himself yesterday with an attack in similar terms-equally implausible, equally illfounded-upon a highly respected member of the judiciary. Exactly that syndrome is at work today in the attempt of the Opposition, bereft as it is of anything positive to say about any matter of policy, once again to drag this issue of judicial behaviour before this Parliament. There is no foundation for any criticism of the kind sought to be made and I do not propose to nurture further the delusions of the Opposition in that respect.

Senator TEAGUE —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Did the Attorney- General make any record of his conversations with the judge? If so, what is the nature of these records?

Senator GARETH EVANS —An internal aide- memoire was prepared at my request by the Secretary to my Department in relation to both of those conversations.