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Wednesday, 10 May 1972
Page: 1507

Senator MURPHY - Is the Attorney General aware of the assertions by one, William McDonald - said to be an influential member of the Victorian Liberal Party - that he has proof that his telephone has been tapped or eavesdropped upon by the Postmaster-General's Department and that this tapping follows his allegations of widespread inefficiencies in the Post Office? Did the Attorney-General authorise any interception or eavesdropping as alleged? Can he tell us whether he has directed that an investigation be made and, if so, what was the result in general terms; I do not ask for details?

Senator GREENWOOD - I have noticed in one of the weekend newspapers references to allegations made by a Mr McDonald. He has not approached me. I am not aware whether or not the allegations attributed to him are correct. It is a fact that legislation exists under which for certain purposes interception of telephone communications is permitted by warrant of the Attorney-General. It is the practice, having regard to the security interests which are involved, that the AttorneyGeneral does not answer questions with regard to those interceptions. However - and this is not to be regarded as any departure from that practice - in this case no such interception has been authorised.

I should say that people often have an impression that telephones are being tapped. These impressions, on investigation by technicians of the Postmaster-General's Department, are found to be completely without foundation. There is within the whole scope of the Postmaster-General's Department the necessity for testing and checking of telephones from time to lime. This work must be carried out in accordance with the regulations of the PostmasterGeneral's Department. I think it proper that I should state that fact because it is not telephone tapping in the sense in which Senator Murphy used the term but is ordinary checking of telephones. However, if I have put before nic by Mr McDonald, or anyone else who wants to take up the matter on his behalf, a basis which would warrant investigation I certainly shall have investigations made.

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