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Tuesday, 1 October 1974
Page: 1488

Senator GIETZELT (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the Leader of the Government in the Senate aware that the Catholic bishops of Chile and their Cardinal, Raul Silva Henriquez, have criticised the harsh arbitrary rule of terror which has operated in Chile since the coup in 1973? Has the Minister noted the kidnapping, brutal torture and illegal detention of an Australian citizen, Miss Alexandra Lamas, by the junta? Will the Minister inquire into the circumstances of the visit of Miss Lamas to Chile, and particularly the role played by Mr Wilson, the regional manager of the Chilean airline, Lan Chile, and his immediate colleagues to have Miss Lamas visit that country? In view of the whole sordid circumstances of this kidnapping, will the Minister discuss with the Minister for Transport the possibility of suspending the operations of Lan Chile for a period in order to indicate the Australian Government's complete displeasure at the junta's latest repudiation of decent human attitudes?

Senator MURPHY - I have some information on this matter. It may not answer all the honourable senator's questions. It may answer some of them. The information is this: Advice was received from our Embassy in Chile early this morning, 1 October, that Miss Lamas has been released from detention into the custody of our Embassy for deportation from Chile within 48 hours. Our Embassy in Santiago reported on 20 September that a person who had been released from prison in Chile informed the Embassy that Miss Lamas was being held in custody. The Embassy in Santiago was immediately instructed to seek access to Miss Lamas and to express interest in her wellbeing. The Embassy has approached the Foreign Ministry, the secretary-general of the junta, the Ministry of Defence and the armed services intelligence organisation. Access was not granted on the ground that the charges against Miss Lamas had not been finalised. Yesterday the Chilean Ambassador was called to the Department of Foreign Affairs and representations were made to him for access and information.

Miss Lamas was born in Argentina and is a naturalised Australian citizen. Her mother lives in Australia. It is reported that her father is an American citizen resident in the United States. She has been working for the Chilean airline, Lan Chile, in Sydney. So far as is known no charges were laid but it was reported that Miss Lamas was allegedly found to be in possession of written material for a militant left wing organisation, propaganda material and a quantity of Chilean money. The Chilean authorities assured our Embassy that Miss Lamas was in good physical health. There was no indication or any evidence of torture. The Australian Embassy in Santiago is currently making arrangements for Miss Lamas to fly out of Chile on the earliest convenient flight. That is the information which I have had supplied to me. I think it answers some but not others of the questions asked by the honourable senator. I shall see whether some information can be supplied in answer to his other requests.

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