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Wednesday, 7 March 1984
Page: 529


Senator MacGIBBON —I ask the Attorney-General: Was the Minister who ordered the release of Mr Ramon Sala in 1974 and the return of his passport the then Attorney-General, Senator Lionel Murphy? Who made representations to the Minister for Mr Sala's release? Was the current Attorney-General in any way involved in advising the then Attorney-General on the Sala case? If so, in what capacity? Has the Government yet decided whether it will table the Menzies report into the handling of this matter? Will it also table any relevant departmental or Federal or State police files?


Senator GARETH EVANS —It will come as no surprise to know that the Attorney- General of the Commonwealth in April-May 1974 was the then Senator Lionel Murphy , now Mr Justice Murphy, and he was the Minister involved in that particular case. Representations were made on behalf of Sala by his solicitors, and that is a matter of record within the Department and is not disputed. As to whether or not I advised on any matter relating to this case, the answer is no. I was at the time a part time consultant to the Attorney-General on racial discrimination and human rights matters, but I certainly had no role in the day to day operation of matters of this kind. As to whether the Government has completed its consideration of whether we will table the Menzies report on this matter, the answer is no. As to whether we are likely to consider tabling or be prepared to table other departmental files on this matter, including police investigation reports, I think the answer is not likely in the case of police reports for familiar reasons that I indicated, amongst other occasions, when I made the tabling statement in relation to this whole matter. As to the details of the departmental files, that is a question which needs to be resolved on the application of freedom of information principles and we will give consideration to that.