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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 1819

Senator Gietzelt asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:

(   1 ) What is a security check.

(2)   Are security checks carried out by particular officers of the Attorney-General's Department, the Public Service Board or the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, or all three.

(3)   To what extent does a document headed 'Personal Particulars Form ' form part of any security checking procedure.

(4)   To whom are these so-called checks referred for clearance.

(5)   Is the final clearance made by Departmental officials, the Public Service Board, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation ora Minister of the Crown.

(   6 ) If the ' Personal Particulars Form ' is part of any so-called security check, what is done with this form and who handles it after it has been filled out by a Ministerial staff member.

(7)   Under the authority of what Act of the Parliament are these checks carried out.

(8)   Are these so-called checks, when completed, communicated to the Governments of any foreign countries.

(9)   How many people on previous Ministerial staffs were not cleared for security purposes.

(   10) To what extent do Ministerial staff members under present or proposed legislation have access to information gathered about them during the course of a security clearance.

Senator Murphy - I am advised by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation that the answers to the honourable senator's questions are as follows:

(   1 ) A security check is an inquiry made by a Commonwealth Department or instrumentality of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation to ascertain whether on security grounds a person is suitable for certain positions or for access to classified information.

(2)   Security checks are carried out by officers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. As the actual employer, the Permanent Head of a Department or Authority is obliged to make the decision on the question of access to classified information having taken into account all information available to him, including the security assessment.

(3)   The personal particulars form contains detail essential to the checking process. The amount of detail to be inserted on the form depends upon the level of checking required, e.g., confidential, secret, top secret.

(4)   See replies to ( 1 ) and (2) above.

(   5 ) Final clearance is the responsibility of:

(a)   the Public Service Board for recruits to the Commonwealth Public Service,

(b)   the Head of the Department for Departmental staff and,

(c)   the Minister for Ministerial staff.

(6)   The usual procedure in respect of checks of Ministerial staff is that the security officer of the Minister's Department forwards the personal particulars form together with a request for security check to appropriate level to the Headquarters of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation.

(7)   The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act of I9S6 required the Director-General of Security to advise Ministers in respect of matters relevant to security.

(8)   If an Australian official in the course of his duties needs to have access to the classified matter of a foreign country the latter may wish to be assured that the official has a security clearance to a level at least as high as the classification of the information to be provided.

(9)   The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation does not retain such records. Recording results of security checks of Ministerial staff is properly the responsibility of the Minister or his Department.

(   10) The present practice is never to provide an individual with the result of any security check made on him by his employer. The question of an alternative to the foregoing is currently being examined by the Government.

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