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Wednesday, 4 April 1973
Page: 1048

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (Prime Minister) - I rise to make a personal explanation.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! Does the Prime Minister claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr WHITLAM - Yes. I believe 1 can correct the misrepresentation more succinctly and with better manners than the Leader of the Opposition. The right honourable gentleman asked me, in a typically tortuous question, yesterday:

Is it the clear conclusion from the answer that the Prime Minister has given that the Foreign Affairs Department and the Attorney-General's Department conspired to lead the Prime Minister and the Government to a lie, to which he has referred?

To that, in reply I stated:

I do not wish to state whether I accept the accuracy of the version given by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation representative concerning the points put by the representative of the Department of Foreign Affairs. These are matters into which I am inquiring. 1 do not want to express a view which will predetermine the facts in this matter.

The right honourable gentleman then interjected:

What about the conspiracy between AttorneyGenerals and Foreign Affairs?

I said:

The right honourable gentleman asks a question about conspiracy. It would certainly, on the face of it, indicate that there was a conspiracy between public servants to withhold the truth from the Parliament.

Mr Speaker,I have been most scrupulous not to underwrite the accuracy of the report. (Honourable members interjecting)

Mr SPEAKER - Order! Some honourable member has interjected and said: 'Tell the truth'. I should like to find out who made that interjection because he would be reprimanded.

Mr WHITLAM - I have been most scrupulous not to assert the accuracy of the report which I quoted. I took the earliest possible action upon it, and that is in train. I did not initiate the use of the words 'conspire' or 'conspiracy'.

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