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Tuesday, 3 April 1973
Page: 955

Mr SNEDDEN (BRUCE, VICTORIA) - I ask the Prime Minister: Did an inter-departmental committee meet on 2nd March last to discuss security arrangements for the Yugoslav Prime Minister's visit and other matters? Was the Department of Foreign Affairs represented? Was the honourable gentleman informed of the meeting and its conclusions and, if so, when? Are reports correct which state that the meeting decided that Senator Murphy's statement on Croatian extremism should not contain information at variance with statements on the subject by the last Government? What were the results of the investigation which involved the Department of Foreign Affairs? Did it lead to a justification for Senator Murphy's raid on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation?

Mr WHITLAM (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Prime Minister) - I learnt on 16th March that a meeting had been held on 2nd March between representatives of various departments, including my Department of Foreign

Affairs, following an answer that the AttorneyGeneral had given in the Senate the previous day that he would be making a statement about Croatian terrorism. I saw the report of the meeting of 2nd March which the ASIO representative had made on 5th March. The relevant passage of the report concerning the Department of Foreign Affairs was as follows:

The Department of Foreign Affairs made two points on the proposed statement. The first was that the statement should not be at variance with the interim reply given to Yugoslavia in response to the aide-memoire presented to Australia following the Bosnian Incident' in 1972. The second was that unless there were reasons to the contrary, they prefer the statement to be deferred until after the visit to Australia of the Prime Minister of Yugoslavia from the 20th-22nd March, 1973. The Attorney-General's Department accepted the first point but argued on the second point that the Attorney-General might find it necessary to table the statement at an earlier date.

I was naturally concerned at the inference that because our predecessors had lied to the Yugoslav Government we should lie to the Parliament. I have taken action in this matter which is still in train.

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