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Wednesday, 18 May 1960

Mr Cairns s asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -

1.   Is it a fact that since the introduction of telephone communication interception in Australia, communications from 182 telephones have been intercepted?

2.   Have the telephone communications of any (a) political party official or employee of a political party; (b) trade union official or employee of a trade union; or (c) member of, or candidate for, Parliament been intercepted?

3.   If so, how many interceptions have been made in each category?

4.   What other types of person or organization have had their telephone communications intercepted?

Sir Garfield Barwick - I have already disclosed in my second-reading speech in this House when introducing the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Bill that 182 intercepts have been made since intercepts were first made in 1949 under the authority, and during the regime, of Prime Minister Chifley. In that speech 1 gave my reasons for taking that particular course. I do not propose to depart from the sound policy instituted by Mr. Chifley and consistently followed by the Prime Minister of not disclosing details of the operation of the security service. The Prime Minister has informed this House on a number of occasions that no interception of a telephone of a member of this or any parliament has been made at any time by the security service. I gave the same assurance in my second-reading speech.

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