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Tuesday, 1 May 1973
Page: 1478

Mr LYNCH (FLINDERS, VICTORIA) - My question which is addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister, follows upon a question asked earlier by the Leader of the Opposition and which the Deputy Prime Minister knows full well he has totally failed to answer. I restate the question of the Leader of the Opposition and I hope that the Deputy Prime Minister will listen to it in specific terms. When did he, as the Acting Prime Minister, first learn, and how did he learn, that Senator Murphy had been informed on 9 April of the intended Yugoslav Government's statement of 12 April concerning the execution of 3 Australian citizens?

Mr BARNARD - I made it quite clear to the Leader of the Opposition that this matter was first drawn to my attention by the Department of Foreign Affairs when I was the Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Mr Lynch - What was the date?

Mr BARNARD - The date was 18th April, the date on which I issued a statement in reply to the statement which had appeared in the Press.

Mr Lynch - What was the date then? Do you not remember?

Mr BARNARD - Yes. I gave you the date, and 18th April was the date I quoted.

Mr Lynch - Are you sure about it?

Mr BARNARD - I am sure about it.

Mr SPEAKER -Order. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has asked his question.

Mr BARNARD - There has been no suggestion by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, or by the Leader of the Opposition although he made a statement recently that he thought that I had used a half truth or words to that effect. I would not in any circumstances mislead this House. The matter was not discussed with me by Senator Murphy and it was first-

Mr Snedden - Or by the Prime Minister?

Mr BARNARD - Or by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister, as the Leader of the Opposition knows, was-then overseas.

Mr Snedden - No; he knew on 16th April.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! There are too many interjections. A question has been asked. Let the Deputy Prime Minister answer the question.

Mr BARNARD - I can say without equivocation to this House that the Prime Minister and I had no official discussion about this matter, neither did I at any time have any official discussion with the Attorney-General. I made a statement on 18th April because of what I and the Department of Foreign Affairs regarded as being an incorrect Press report which had emanated from Belgrade. On the basis of that Press statement I issued a statement on 18th April, and that statement I quoted to the House a few moments ago. So I believe that the answer to the question of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is that I had no official discussions with the Prime Minister or the Attorney-General on this matter. I made my first statement on 18th April.

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