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Tuesday, 21 August 1973
Page: 15

Mr SINCLAIR (NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Did the Prime Minister in a recent television interview- if I may say so, this seems to be his presently preferred forum for national policy comment- when questioned about a telex message from the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation refer in derogatory tones to the security of Australian security forces? Does he hold the same views on the security of his own Cabinet over the publication of the Coombs Report? What action has he taken to identify the origins of this appalling breach of Budget privacy? Does the Prime Minister accept the Westminster doctrine of ministerial responsibility? If so, why has he not taken appropriate action against the Attorney-General and the Treasurer as the 2 Ministers responsible administratively respectively for ASIO and the Budget?

Mr WHITLAM - I realise the difficulties of liaison between the Country Party and the Liberal Party. I remember that the Leader of the Liberal Party, the Leader of the Opposition, at a convention of the Queensland Liberal Party on 20 July at Surfers Paradise- a good place to hold a convention- made a speech in which he called for the immediate open publication of the Coombs Report. Whatever the character of the Coombs Report may be, one cannot ask on one hand for its full and open publication and on the other hand complain about some publications from it.

Mr Snedden - Go on! You cannot expect us to accept that.

Mr WHITLAM - I have brought the Leader of the Opposition in to help his junior, junior colleague. Of course, the Leader of the Opposition later asked for the Budget decisions to be announced because there are some leaks about the Coombs Report. The Coombs Report is not a

Budget document although, as I said some months ago and as all honourable gentlemen will find tonight, it will be tabled at the same time as the Budget papers.

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