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Thursday, 23 August 1973
Page: 380

Dr Forbes (BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice:

(1)   Did he announce on 5 March 1973 that the rank of Commander, Tasmania Command, would be raised from Colonel to Brigadier from 1 April 1973.

(2)   If so, did he give as the reason for this that the raising of 2 CMF Battalions in Tasmania in 1972 and the current reorganisation of the Australian Army created a situation analogous to that in South Australia and Western Australia where Brigadiers fill the posts of Commander.

(3)   Did he also say that it was necessary for a Formation Commander in Tasmania to be of one star rank because of his Command and disciplinary responsibilities.

(4)   If so, will he give the order of battle in each of the 3 States mentioned so that a judgment can be made as to the comparative responsibilities of the Commanders.

(5)   What Command disciplinary responsibilities has a Commander in Tasmania now that he did not have previously.

(6)   What elements in the new organisation of the Australian Army along functional rather than geographic lines make it necessary for the Commander in Tasmania Command to be a Brigadier.

Mr Barnard - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: (1), (2) and (3) Yes.

(4)   This has now been sent to the honourable member. <5) and (6) There are no significant changes in Tasmania Command other than the decisions to raise a second CMF battalion and to re-arrange the com mand pattern. The post was up-graded to the level of the Western and Central Commands because it has similar disciplinary responsibilities, and exercises similar delegations.

Confidential Documents: Retention by Ministers (Question No. 462)

Mr Mathews (CASEY, VICTORIA) asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:

(1)   Is he able to say whether any former Ministers, in recent years, have retained official documents of a confidential nature made available to them in their former official capacity.

(2)   If so, what was the nature of each document retained.

(3)   Is the retention of documents acquired in ' a former official capacity in conformity with (a) the law, (b) convention or (c) precedent

(4)   If not, will he seek an assurance from .any former Ministers known to hold any such documents that these will be returned.

Mr Whitlam - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   and (2) The former Attorney-General, Senator Greenwood, has said that he has retained certain official documents which I understand to be of a confidential nature. Copies of such documents were tabled by him in the Senate on 4 April 1973 - see Hansard, page 807. I am not aware that any other former Ministers in recent years have retained official documents of a confidential nature which were made available to them in their former official capacity.

(3)   Questions relating to the retention by former Ministers of documents acquired by them in their official capacity involve complex issues of law and it would not be appropriate in an answer to a Parliamentary question to canvass all of those issues. It would, however, appear in general to be both in accordance with law and convention that a former Minister is not entitled to retain documents acquired by him solely in his official capacity. Former Ministers are, of course, expected to act responsibly in these matters.

(4)   I should be glad to arrange for the appropriate Department to receive any such ' official documents held by former Ministers that they did hot surrender on the termination of their portfolios.

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