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Thursday, 3 November 1983
Page: 2293

Mr STEELE HALL —My question is directed to the Special Minister of State. I refer to the Minister's reply yesterday to the Leader of the Opposition in which he said that there was no material in the possession of the Australian Federal Police which would sustain the type of suggestion put forward by Mr Bottom. Will the Minister now agree that it is for the New South Wales judicial inquiry and not the Federal Police Commissioner to decide whether the information in the transcripts will sustain those allegations? Will the Minister, therefore, make available to the inquiry all the information in the possession of the Federal Police which in any way concerns the allegations and not have the matter prejudged by a non-judicial officer in the manner he indicated yesterday?

Mr BEAZLEY —In the course of answering this question I want to add to the answer I gave to the Leader of the Opposition. Now, having had an opportunity to reflect on what I said, I recollect the extent to which Senator Chipp was briefed beyond the extent to which the Leader of the Opposition was briefed. Senator Chipp was more extensively briefed than the Leader of the Opposition was , as I recollect, on the degree of the Government's concern about compromise of Federal investigations. That was the essential difference between his briefing and that of the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Peacock —It is a very significant difference.

Mr BEAZLEY —It is not, in fact, a very significant difference at all.

Mr Peacock —We might take that further another day.

Mr BEAZLEY —If the Leader of the Opposition wishes to be briefed on the extent of the Government's concern about the possibility of the compromise of a Federal investigation I am happy to brief him. That is okay. It is all right with me.

Mr Dobie —Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. I believe that at the moment the Minister is making a personal explanation during Question Time.

Mr SPEAKER —I think honourable members appreciate that he is adding to an answer given to the Leader of the Opposition and then will be answering the question asked by the honourable member for Boothby.

Mr BEAZLEY —The answer to the honourable member for Boothby's question is this: The problems I referred to yesterday still stand. The honourable member for Boothby ought to be aware of the considerable constraints imposed on the Federal Government by that legislation as to whom information may be passed to and in what way that information may be used. It is properly constricting legislation devised by the Opposition.

Mr Steele Hall —That is not the substance of your answer yesterday.

Mr BEAZLEY —No. It is properly constricting legislation. What I have said is this: I want to be able to pass on to the New South Wales judicial authorities everything that can possibly be passed on to them in order that they can complete their inquiries. I was pointing out yesterday that in pursuing that desire I may find myself in a degree of trouble with the Act I am obliged to administer. I said yesterday that if I find myself in a degree of trouble in terms of the administration of that Act amendments may possibly be required. When we learn what exactly is intended by the New South Wales authorities in whatever Act they bring into Parliament, or whatever administrative process they set in train to achieve that, we will know better the extent to which there are problems with our own Act in relation to it. When we know that we will make a determination on what amendments might have to be made in pursuing that matter further.

There is no embarrassment on my part in passing over to the New South Wales authorities anything related to the questions involved with the early release scheme. As I have said, if we find ourselves having problems with the administration of the Opposition's Act-I do not want to bag its Act because I think the way in which it has phrased it is perfectly appropriate-when we come to considering what has to be passed on, we will have a look at that. What I said yesterday in relation to the allegations by Mr Bottom still stands; that is , when I was requested by the Attorney-General-in fact I did this on my own initiative-to see whether anything was available to sustain the allegations Mr Bottom put forward, I checked on that with the Police Commissioner. The Police Commissioner advised me at that time that nothing in his possession or knowledge sustained those allegations. I have been since advised that he sticks by that original judgment.

Mr Steele Hall —And you accepted that?

Mr BEAZLEY —Yes, I do accept the judgment of the Police Commissioner.

Mr SPEAKER —I call the honourable member for Burke. Order! I call the honourable member for Burke. Honourable gentlemen on my left seem to feel that they can chat across the chamber after answers have been given. I ask them to respect the procedures of the House and allow other members to ask questions.