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Wednesday, 3 November 1971
Page: 2894

Mr FOSTER (STURT, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I desire to direct a question to the Minister for Supply. The Minister may recall that the first question directed to him in this House on his assumption of the portfolio of Supply some time ago was asked by me about security at Woomera. I now ask: In seeking evidence for a recent court case in Adelaide concering the disappearance of film from Woomera did the Commonwealth Police recover film other than the lead-in piece which was handled to the magistrate; that is, did the Commonwealth Police recover film with images of rocket firing at Woomera? Why was the film with images not tendered to the magistrate in the court case? Was it because the Government was fearful that the confidence of the United States of America and of other countries using Woomera would be undermined insofar as security arrangements in this country are concerned? Was the security scandal at Woomera in fact a political trick on the part of the Government that misfired?

Mr GARLAND (CURTIN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) (Minister for Supply) - The Commonwealth Police Force is not under my control and 1 have no responsibility for it. The film which is in the hands of the police and has been in the hands of officers of my Department is, firstly, a 5 feet lead strip, to which the honourable member has referred, showing only identification and classification on it; secondly, a black and white print and a negative of that print found at the home of the person who was charged and to whom the honourable member referred; thirdly, a copy of 18 inches of film of missile firing which was found at the home of the person accused; and, fourthly, certain copies of other film which was obtained from a South Australian newspaper and from the person accused. The only film available and held was that which was presented to the court. !As the honourable member knows, the magistrate dismissed the charge because he believed that there was insufficient evidence on which to make a conviction.

The honourable member would be aware, I am sure, of an article which appeared on one of the Sunday newspapers that referred to some of these matters. He seems to have obtained some information from it. That article contained a number of inaccuracies and misrepresentations. Perhaps he was encouraged to put this question today because it gave him the appropriate name for the occasion. Might I say that the United States authorities are not involved in this matter. The United Kingdom authorities have been kept acquainted df it. There is no cover up involved at all. The investigating authorities - my Department and the Commonwealth Police - have co-operated with one another. The charge which was laid and which was dismissed was a serious one for which the maximum penalty is 7 years imprisonment. It was seriously intended and prosecuted. That is in brief a summary of the position.

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