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Thursday, 7 October 1971
Page: 2016

Mr JESS (LA TROBE, VICTORIA) - Mr Speaker, I desire to ask you a question. Is it a fact that a Mr Thwaites has been appointed to the position of Deputy Librarian of the Parliament? Is it a fact that Mr Thwaites formerly served with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation? Is it a fact that you have received, or have you received, complaints from the Australian Labor Party suggesting that because a man has served with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation he is unacceptable to the Labor Party?

Mr SPEAKER -The answer to the first 2 parts of the honourable gentleman's question is yes, Mr Thwaites has been appointed Assistant Librarian of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library. For the benefit of the House I should like to tell honourable members that Mr Thwaites was far above any other candidate for the position in the Parliamentary Library. His qualifications were outstanding. To give honourable members some idea of his academic qualifications and his suitability for the position, I think I should-

Mr Cope - ls this a question without notice?

Mr SPEAKER -I will come to this other matter in a moment when I answer the third part of the question. Mr Thwaites is a Bachelor of Arts, with honours, of the University of Melbourne. He was a Rhodes Scholar for Victoria in 1937. He is a Master of Arts and a B.Litt. of Oxford. He was awarded the King's Medal for poetry in 1940. His publications include The "Jervis Bay" and Other Poems' and Poems of War and Peace'. He served with the Royal Navy in the North Sea and in the Atlantic in the 1939-45 war and in 1945 commanded a corvette with the rank of lieutenant-commander. Between 1947 and 1949 he was a lecturer in English at the University of Melbourne, and from 1950 to early 1971 he was with the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. I believe that Mr Thwaites's qualifications are undoubted, and I also belive that the fact that he has been with ASIO should not prejudice him in any position that he might seek in the Public Service in which he has served for 20-odd years. He has transferred to a position at the same level.

Mr Kennedy - What was his library experience?

Mr SPEAKER - I will answer that one, too, if the honourable member likes. The position that Mr Thwaites is filling does not call for him to be a professional librarian, and this applied also to the 2 previous appointees to the Parliamentary Library - Mr Fleming and Mr Moore.

Mr Hayden - What was his previous experience in research work?

Mr SPEAKER - I will answer the honourable member too. The work that he is doing in the Parliamentary Library is parallel with the work which he has done for the last 20 years. (Opposition members interjecting) -

Mr SPEAKER -I have been told that the type of work which he will do in the Parliamentary Library is parallel with the type of work which he has done for the last 20 years. The position he filled in ASIO in the last 20 years was, namely, the supervision of staff engaged in research work, analysis and evaluation work, and supervision and editorial duties in relation to the production of reports and research papers. In regard to the last part of the honourable gentleman's question, 2 members of the Opposition have seen me on this matter, but as is usual in my position as Speaker I never disclose the confidences that are placed in me.

Mr Sherry - I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I seek your guidance on this matter. Quite often in this chamber you have said that the Chair does not have knowledge of any question that is asked. You have stated on a great number of occasions that you have no knowledge of the substance of questions that are asked. You have stated this on a great number of occasions. Yet I question how this morning you are able to give a list of the qualifications of this gentleman if in fact it was a question without notice.

Mr SPEAKER -I will be very pleased to answer that question. If I were to answer it correctly, might I say, I would have to disclose some of the conversations that I have had with members of the Australian Labor Party, and I do not propose to do that. But once you have been in this House for a little time, if you read newspapers and keep your eyes open it does not take you long to realise what is likely to come up.

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