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Thursday, 14 October 1971
Page: 2348

Mr IRWIN (MITCHELL, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Did the Minister for Defence see an Australian Broadcasting Commission television programme on Tuesday night in which a graphic description of Australian forces' movements in Vietnam was given, even down to their distances from certain places? Does not this endanger the lives of Australian soldiers and provide information of great benefit to the enemy7

Mr FAIRBAIRN (FARRER, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Defence) - I have seen a transcript of the story which was filed by Mr Andrew Swanton from Vietnam and broadcast by the Australian Broadcasting Commission recently. I have had a close look at it, but I believe that it refers only in general terms to numbers and that it does not refer to actual detailed movements of Australian troops. Therefore, I do not believe that there has been any breach of security in this article. I am informed by my department that there is, in fact, no censorship in Vietnam but that what happens is that correspondents are accredited by the South Vietnamese Government and by the United States Government. When they are accredited they are given guidelines and told that if there is any breach of security by them or if they conduct activities on the. black market the accreditation will be withdrawn. On a number of occasions the accreditation of correspondents has been withdrawn because of these breaches. But I have taken the opportunity of ensuring that all correspondents in the Australian' Task Force area are reminded of the fact that should there be any breach of security on their part their accreditation will be immediately withdrawn. I have asked that they be informed that . particularly at a time like this they should make every effort to see that no information is given which could lead in any way to endangering the lives of Australian men in that area. I thank the honourable member for bringing this matter to the attention of the House.

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