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Thursday, 20 October 1983
Page: 2015

Mr PEACOCK —My question is directed to the Special Minister of State. I refer to his earlier answer and in particular to his firmly declared intention not to release transcripts and tapes relating to investigations by the Australian Federal Police except, as I recall what he said, if a person subject to investigation wished to have his name cleared. How does the Minister reconcile that with the endorsement by the Government of the release of transcripts of Mr Combe's taped conversations and the earlier threat by the Prime Minister that, if Mr Combe did not agree to make a statement the Prime Minister wanted him to make, the Prime Minister would ensure that transcripts of intercepted telephone conversations were released?

Mr BEAZLEY —I need to clarify the Leader of the Opposition's interpretation of my answer because it is not an accurate interpretation. When I referred to the possibility of my discussing in this House matters related to investigations, I was not referring to matters pertaining to the Telecommunications (Interception) Act, the subject of the questions relating to tapes and transcripts asked by the Leader of the Opposition and the honourable member for Boothby. I was talking then of general principles. I cited the example of an individual the subject of a proceeding or concluded investigation who wished to have his name cleared at any point and who indicated that either directly to me or by comments in the Press, or was challenged whether a conclusion had been reached. That was the type of qualification I was talking about. I related it specifically to investigations. I did not relate it to questions associated with tapes or transcripts that arise from the Telecommunications (Interception) Act that is under the jurisdiction of the Australian Federal Police Commissioner. I want to make that point quite clear.

As I said then, and I reiterate now, I will not be party to releasing in this House any materials relating to phone taps under the Telecommunications ( Interception) Act because, firstly, that is firmly within the jurisdiction of the Commissioner of Police; secondly, those taps will invariably be related to matters of criminal investigation under which people will be placed at risk of severe penalty, or opportunities to prosecute people who ought to be subject to severe penalty will be dealt with. I suggest there is no equivalence in the two situations to which the Leader of the Opposition referred.