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Tuesday, 15 May 1973
Page: 2058

Mr ADERMANN (FISHER, QUEENSLAND) - My question which is addressed to the Postmaster-General relates to an article which appeared in the Brisbane Sunday Sun' of 13 May headed 'Little Watergate on North Coast' which I showed to him this morning and in which I think he will agree very serious allegations were made. I ask him: Is there any truth in the report that he has received complaints of frequent telephone tapping in the Maroochy Shire, particularly at the time of the recent elections? ls there any truth in the report that last month he ordered an inquiry into the allegations? Did he send inspectors to the area to inquire into the matter? If so, is the inquiry able to report whether there is any substance in the allegations? Will he at a convenient time advise the House when, under what circumstances and on whose authority telephones can be tapped?

Mr Lionel Bowen (KINGSFORD-SMITH, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honourable member for Fisher showed me the article in question just prior to question time but I am able to remind him now that he himself made representations to me on or about 10th April on this matter. As a result of his representations concerning the Maroochy area I naturally have asked for an inquiry to be made. That inquiry is still current, and accordingly I am not able to say whether or not the information contained in the article is accurate. But as soon as information from the inquiry is available I shall inform the House and the honourable member. Generally, what is called tapping of telephones, of course, is an offence. Any Post Office employee who was found guilty of that would be dismissed. Legal listening, as it is termed, is a matter for Security. That can only take place when it is authorised by the Attorney-General, who in turn would have had a request from the Director-General of Security. The monitoring in due course is performed only by the DirectorGeneral of Security.

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