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Thursday, 19 May 1960


Mr J R Fraser - by leave - As a result of something which was said during the debate on the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Bill, and as a result of a report which appeared later in newspapers, a member of the staff of this Parliament came under suspicion as being a secret agent who interfered with letters and other documents in the rooms of members of the Parliament. It is true that neither during the debate nor in the report was the name of this man mentioned, but he was identified as a cleaner and, of course, when he was subsequently interrogated by officers of the Joint House Department, it became known among his fellow employees that he was the man under suspicion.

Without seeking to contravert in any way the fears that honorable members may hold that their correspondence or files are being interfered with, I want to say that having known this man and his wife for eleven years since they came to Australia, I have complete faith in his honesty and a complete belief that he is in no way to blame for having interfered with correspondence or anything else in the offices of honorable members.

This man came with his wife from another land in which he had lost his home and all his possessions, and in which, indeed, he had occupied a material position much higher than he is able to gain in this country because of his advancing years. He has taken part in community life and, in my view, he is a completely trustworthy man - a man with whom I would trust my life or anything that I possess.

The honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard), who was mentioned in connexion with this matter, has had to leave Canberra to return to duties in his electorate, but he has asked me to say that while he still holds the belief that some interference with documents in his office has taken place, he has been completely assured, from further inquiries which he has made, that the man on whom suspicion had fallen was in fact innocent. He has asked me to say that had he been here he would have sought to make a personal explanation, to clear this particular employee of the Parliament of the suspicion which has been cast upon him.

I hope that what I have said now will have the effect of removing from this man the stigma that has fallen on him.







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