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Tuesday, 19 August 1980
Page: 27

Mr HAYDEN (Oxley) (Leader of the Opposition) - by leave - The key paragraphs in the statement by the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) are paragraphs 4 and 5, and I repeat them because of their importance. Paragraph 4 states:

Mr JusticeWoodward's report finds that there is no credible evidence of any ONA document having got into the wrong hands, nor of the improper use of classified information by any ONA officer, nor of any serious breach of security by any ONA officer. And therefore no reason, arising from the ASIO inquiry, to conclude that ONA is not a basically secure organisation.

That is a reassuring finding from a man whose prestige and standing as far as this Parliament is concerned, and certainly as far as the Opposition is concerned, is such as to leave us with every conviction that the job has been done properly and that the finding is one that can be accepted completely. In paragraph 5 the Prime Minister said:

On the particular question, which attracted much public attention, of a missing security document Mr Justice Woodward has reported that his investigation has established beyond reasonable doubt that the missing document was destroyed in ONA by an officer whose duty it was to dispose of unwanted papers and who in this instance had no reason to doubt that he was doing so legitimately.

So there are no grounds for the development of a conspiracy theory about subversion within the Office of National Assessments. Mr Justice Woodward, a trained judicial analyst, analysed all the evidence before him. He had the resources of trained investigators backing him and he came to that conclusion. That, too, is reassuring. He is candid in acknowledging that there have been defects internally, and they are being remedied. With Mr Furlonger in charge of the organisation one would anticipate that the defects, to the extent that they exist, will be quickly repaired. Mr Furlonger has an impressive record as an administrator and as a fair and impartial servant of the public and the Parliament.

In view of the rather sensational, if not extravagant, statements that have been made in some quarters, I want to put on record the reasons why I feel relieved to discover that ONA has been given what is effectively a clean bill of health in this matter. I have had the benefit of drawing on ONA on several occasions for briefing on important and often sensitive matters relating to international affairs. I have been impressed enormously by the common sense of the officers of ONA and the way in which they have analysed the issues and arrived at what appeared to me to be quite sound, thoroughly sensible conclusions. I have been reassured to find a coincidence of views in the conclusions and understandings reached by ONA and myself. It has been a matter of some unease to find on so many important issues such a great gulf between the Government's understandings and the conclusions and those of the accredited objective body charged with the duty of making sensible assessments on matters of international affairs.

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