Hilton Hotel Bombing Inquiry Proposal



About this Item
SpeakersTink Mr Andrew; Whelan Mr Paul; Collins The Hon Peter; Mills Mr John; Kerr Mr Malcolm
BusinessBusiness of the House

HILTON HOTEL BOMBING INQUIRY PROPOSAL

Mr TINK (Eastwood) [12.20]: I move:
      That this House:
          1. Stresses the imperative and urgent need for a top level open joint New South Wales-Federal Government inquiry into the bombing of the Sydney Hilton Hotel on 13 February 1978.
          2. Calls upon the Federal Government to immediately establish the inquiry.
          3. Pledges the full co-operation of the New South Wales Government.
          4. Emphasises that the terms of reference of the inquiry must embrace events leading up to as well as the circumstances and consequences and subsequent investigations of the bombing.

I draw the attention of the House to the presence in the gallery of Mr Terry Griffiths, who, as honourable members know, was grievously injured as a result of the bombing and has worked unfailingly to get to the bottom of the matter ever since. I wish to refer briefly to a speech of the former member for South Coast, Mr Hatton, who, in moving a similar motion in 1991 said:
      There have been persistent suggestions of ASIO involvement in the bombing, for example . . .

He then listed a number of sources of information. It is that material upon which I want to spend a few minutes this afternoon. I refer to recent events: the release by the Government of some of the files in this matter. I opposed this release as did, I understand, the head of the Premier's office, Mr Wilkins, and Terry Griffiths. Our concerns are twofold: first, the documents that are disclosed are only ever going to be disclosed in part - and that heightens suspicions rather than reduces them; second, there can be information in the material that is released that will tip-off people in relation to the matters that could prejudice subsequent inquiry. For example, at the Archive Authority of New South Wales from box 5 of a number of boxes of documents that are on public display I found a schedule of documents which have been exempted from the release. The list contains about 25 documents.

That has been the story right throughout this matter. A large number of documents have been exempted. With regard to the documents not exempted we face the difficulty of having documents, such as the one I am holding, in relation to which key paragraphs have been blanked out rendering the balance relatively meaningless. Further, there are serious concerns about the interrelationship between the New South Wales and Commonwealth governments in connection with documents being withheld. I have been told by Mr Griffiths that he attended the Archive Authority on Friday 15 September and looked at the available documents. He was told that a number had been classified as restricted and were not available for inspection. He then telephoned the Premier's Office and spoke to Mr James Wheeldon, who made inquiries and later informed Mr Griffiths that the files he had mentioned, whilst cleared by the State of New South Wales, were restricted by the Commonwealth of Australia from public viewing.

Mr Griffiths has since told me that the Archive Authority informed him that the files that were withdrawn by the Commonwealth had been on public display from 4 to 6 September at the Archive Authority office. After intervention from the Commonwealth Government the documents had been withdrawn. This is the sort of nonsense that goes on with this type of disclosure of documents - where there is toing-and-froing with partial information. There now seems to be censorship of the State Government by the Commonwealth Government. One Federal Labor member of Parliament got it right. Chris Haviland in a recent motion in Federal Parliament put the key question: did the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation commission a Commonwealth scientist to make bombs just before the Hilton bombing? I refer to a letter of 31 January 1994 signed by the Special Minister of State, Frank Walker, to Ms Caroline Graham at the University of Technology. The letter stated:
      It is true that I was visited by a Commonwealth scientist who said he manufactured two bombs. I passed that information on to senior officers of the Attorney General's Department in NSW.
      They conducted an investigation but could not substantiate that the bomb described by the scientist was the same one as the one produced by the police in the first case against the three members of the Ananda Marga.

The letter continued:
      The law officers who conducted the investigation also had ultimate responsibility for the Coronial Inquiry.

Since that time there has been reference in the Sydney Morning Herald of 22 July to Mr George Petersen, a former member of this House, who has met a scientist said to be involved in the manufacture of these bombs. Mr Walker discovered last month that the Director of Public Prosecutions, Reg Blanch, and Mr Laurie Glanfield had been unable to find any record of this. These matter were the subject of a recent report by Mr Holditch to the Federal Government. The report, which was made on 21 September 1994, indicates that Mr Walker, the Special Minister of State, had been approached by Senator Evans, the present foreign Minister, to interview a scientist. Mr Walker said that the man he interviewed told him that he had designed a bomb that was intended not to explode, but could have exploded in a garbage compactor. Mr Walker said:
      I arranged for the man's story to be investigated by senior officers of my Department. The officers concerned were the Under Secretary, Trevor William Haines, and the Solicitor for Public Prosecutions, John Hogan.

Mr Holditch subsequently wrote to both gentlemen. They said they were unable to assist him. Mr Holditch then said he was given permission by the Federal Attorney General to follow up with the scientist. There is no record of his ever having done so although he concludes in his report that there was insufficient evidence to link ASIO with any scheme to make fake bombs. Having read the Holditch report,
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I have little doubt that somebody had cut and pasted the report. Somebody has changed the contents of the report. It is utterly astonishing that Mr Holditch, having been given permission by the Attorney General to interview this person, makes no reference in his report to whether the interview took place or what the outcome was. On 7 January 1995 in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald Mr Walker insisted he had seen a written investigation into a senior government scientist's claims that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation had made bombs. Mr Walker said that Mr Haines, the former Under Secretary of Justice, had sat in on his meeting with the scientist. Mr Walker said that the identity of the scientist was known to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Evans, who retained notes of the meeting he held with the scientist before the scientist met Mr Walker.

It is of fundamental importance to know whether the New South Wales Attorney General's Department, the New South Wales Cabinet Office or the New South Wales Government - in any one of its forms - is holding any documentation, notes or records of an investigation carried out by Mr Haines and/or Mr Hogan, or anyone else, in relation to truth of the claim of this scientist. Mr Griffiths told me that on 1 September he had a conversation with Mr Bruce Hawker, the Premier's Chief of Staff. During the conversation the Premier's Chief of Staff informed Mr Griffiths that the missing file concerning the allegations made by Mr Frank Walker, QC, had been located - past tense. This file had the name of the scientist whom Mr Walker and Senator Gareth Evans alleged had made two bombs under pressure from ASIO in the week prior to the Sydney Hilton bombing.

As Mr Griffiths says, this information is vital to resolving this tragic matter. However, on 11 September Mr Wheeldon, the assistant to Mr Walker in the Premier's Office, rang Mr Griffiths and told him that the file regarding the scientist could not be found. On 12 September, Mr Griffiths informs me, Mr Hawker spoke to him again and said that the source was a female in the Cabinet Office who had first said that the file had been located but now could not be found. These are fundamental issues - we have to get to the bottom of the situation. The Premier's Office has to get its act together; the Attorney General's Office has to get its act together. If we are to go through this process of releasing files, we have to do it properly. This goes to the heart of one of the key allegations. From the Premier's Office down, there seems to be fundamental problems with the process that they say they have embarked on. [Extension of time agreed to.]

One of the documents that has come to light at the archives office is an advice of 3 May 1982 from Roger Court, QC, the Crown Advocate, to the then Under Secretary of Justice, who I understand was Mr Trevor Haines. Paragraph 4 of that advice states:
          Early in the year I had a number of telephone calls from Senator Gareth Evans referring to ballistics material apparently brought to the attention of the Attorney General late in 1981. That material, if it exists, was never referred to me and a number of calls by me to the Attorney General's private secretary at that time failed to secure it. The Senator apparently attached considerable weight to it and, if some formal report from me is sought, I should perhaps see it.

To my mind that is clear evidence that the matter was before the Attorney General's Department in some form. The original suggestion from Mr Hawker indicates there is a real issue here about what documents are available that have not yet been produced. The situation then is that we have two very senior Ministers of the Federal Government, Mr Walker and Senator Evans involved in the matter. Mr Walker was also a senior Minister in a previous State Labor Government and was also at one stage the Attorney General of this State. He is clearly indicating that there is material and indeed they provided material about the identity of a person who said he manufactured bombs for ASIO in connection with the Hilton bombing. The response of the current Federal Attorney-General to that is that the whole issue is not worthy of further consideration. In a letter to the Sydney Morning Herald on 26 July, Mr Lavarch stated in part:
      Another example is the allegation linking ASIO to the making of fake bombs. Your reporting ignores the report of the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, tabled in Federal Parliament last month, which debunks this theory as well.

Two of Mr Lavarch's senior ministerial colleagues are saying that this story has substance; that they know the identity of this person; that an investigation took place in the New South Wales Attorney General's office; and that involved in the investigation were Mr Hogan and Mr Haines. That is the state of the matter. We have a situation where Mr Bruce Hawker, the head of the Premier's office, first of all said to Mr Terry Griffiths that the documents relating to the State Attorney General's office inquiry into this matter exist, and then said that they do not.

This absolutely fundamental issue has to be grasped and dealt with immediately, if this Government is going to follow through on its commitment to open documents in this matter, to be open and up-front about it. The Premier spoke the other day about wave after wave of documents. We are getting a lot of material that is irrelevant. The Opposition was provided with a fair bit of material last night, but as far as anyone I have spoken to can tell, it is totally irrelevant. The one key document that apparently exists and that has been held back, that the Premier's office has admitted exists, is this very report from the Attorney General's office, the record of inquiry into these issues that have been raised by two senior Federal Ministers. That is the matter we have to get to the bottom of.

Returning to the heart of the motion, it seems to me to be fundamentally important that if there is to be any inquiry into this matter it has got to be a joint Commonwealth-State inquiry. If the current Commonwealth Attorney-General is going to fly absolutely in the face of the comments and reported evidence over many years, the documentary evidence
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of both Senator Evans and Mr Walker, if he is going to allow material to be put out into the public arena by the State Government - as it was - and then pulled back out again, as it was, we are not going to get anywhere without the active and complete cooperation of the Commonwealth Government. I regret to say that on his track record in respect of this matter we are not going to get cooperation from the Federal Attorney-General, Mr Lavarch. That is a matter of extreme concern to me. Yesterday, when he tabled documents, the Leader of the House said:
      The Premier's decision to open the files reflects the Government's commitment to open and accountable government.

If in regard to this matter those words really mean what they say, if the Leader of the House really meant what he said - and I am sure it was done with the full concurrence of the Premier - they have to get into the Cabinet Office or the Attorney General's office this afternoon and get to the bottom of it. They have to speak to people such as Mr Haines and Mr Hogan and obtain any documents that they might be holding. That is fundamental. To further indicate, regrettably, the intransigence of the Commonwealth Government, the Attorney General yesterday furnished the following response to a question upon notice from the Hon. Elisabeth Kirkby:
      The New South Wales Government is eager to participate in a joint Commonwealth/State inquiry into the Hilton Bombing. However, the Commonwealth response to the requests of my predecessors in office for a joint inquiry is that the explosion was a violation of NSW laws and therefore a joint inquiry is not justified.

Two Commonwealth Government Ministers have said firsthand that a Commonwealth Government employee was involved in manufacturing bombs for the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation. That is how fundamental this matter is. I do not understand how, faced with that material from two Ministers who sit at the Cabinet Table with Mr Lavarch, the Government could still provide an answer such as that. To me it does not make sense. The documents to which Mr Hawker referred, which are now apparently being held back, are fundamental to breaking the log jam on this issue and fundamental to getting the Commonwealth Attorney-General involved in a joint inquiry. I remain extremely concerned about the nature and ambit of the documents that have been revealed, but as the Government has embarked on this exercise, let us get away from all the irrelevant material that honourable members in this Chamber are getting swamped with, and get down to the key documents; the documents that relate to Haines, Hogan and Walker, the documents that confirm or contradict the evidence and show Mr Lavarch once and for all that we must have a joint Commonwealth-State inquiry and that the key issues in this matter are on his patch. I commend the motion.

Mr WHELAN (Ashfield - Minister for Police) [12.35]: I do not know where the honourable member was in the period from 1988 to 1995, and I am pleased to note that the Leader of the Opposition has arrived in the Chamber. At some stage between 1988 and 1995 he was the New South Wales Attorney General and he had access to every file. As a Cabinet Minister he had access to anything that he may have wanted. All the information that the honourable member for Eastwood said is available was available to the Leader of the Opposition while he was the State Attorney General and a Cabinet Minister; they were in the hands of the Government between 1988 and 1995.

The honourable member for Eastwood could have moved this resolution in his party room in exactly the same form as it is today and obtained the consent of the Government leadership, from the Premier to the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and former Attorney General, for access to be available to all these papers that the honourable member says are now going to prejudice the open inquiry. The Opposition had seven long years to release the documents and the former Attorney General was privy to all that information that was available. The honourable member for Eastwood has not been critical of the Federal Government, other than for its intransigence on this issue. He said that the papers held by the State Government Cabinet Office and the State Attorney General's office should be turned in. So be it.

The honourable member has to ask himself a question: why did the Leader of the Opposition sit on his hands or put his hands over his eyes and do nothing? He did not produce the documents. These papers were discoverable by him; they were within his purview and his ministerial authority as the State's first law officer. The honourable member for Eastwood is suggesting that the Leader of the Opposition has been derelict in his duty, because the implication is that former Attorney General Walker, the Cabinet Office and the former Government did something wrong. The honourable member for Eastwood has done something wrong; he has told the Leader of the Opposition that he is guilty of dereliction of duty, not only as first law officer but also as a member of Cabinet.

Mr Collins: On a point of order: the motion refers to a joint Commonwealth-State inquiry and the Minister for Police has not spoken about that joint Commonwealth-State inquiry at any stage in the debate. I ask that you draw this to his attention and direct him to address the terms of the motion.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The Chair has no power at this stage to direct the Leader of the House to make his statements relevant. He still has seven minutes remaining to speak, during which time his statements may become relevant.

Mr WHELAN: This is an important issue. The Leader of the Opposition or the honourable member for Eastwood cannot claim that all these problems started on 25 March 1995. The Leader of the
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Opposition was fully apprised. He had all the information when he was Attorney General and he did nothing about it. He was a member of the Cabinet. I move:
      That the motion be amended by the addition of the following paragraph:
          (5) Congratulates the Carr Government for its historic action in opening the Hilton bombing files.

I shall give a few excerpts from the document I tabled yesterday. It will be noted from the file dealing with the arrest of Anderson and Pederick that many ALP figures were involved in attempting to get justice for Tim Anderson. Few members of the Liberal Party are mentioned. The Hilton matter is a later political discovery for the coalition. It was happy for the three men charged to spend their lives in jail. If it were not for the Australian Labor Party and people such as George Petersen nothing would have been done. I will check to see whether the Leader of the Opposition went surety for Tim Anderson.

Mr Collins: Look for your name while you are at it. Are you there?

Mr WHELAN: Yes. I am mentioned five times. I did not realise that the special branch went to a meeting at Glebe Town Hall that I addressed.

Mr Collins: You were regarded as a suspect.

Mr WHELAN: The Leader of the Opposition regards it as laughable. Page 172 of the report states:
      VISIT BY PAUL HILL OF THE "GUILDFORD FOUR" - ALLEGED I.R.A. TERRORIST - MEETING AT GLEBE TOWN HALL.
      On 24 March 1991, a public meeting was held at the Glebe Town Hall. A number of persons spoke including Paul Whelan the shadow Attorney General who, in a political speech, set out his policy on the issue of police informants.

Peter Collins was not there.

Mr Collins: What was your position on the Hilton bombing?

Mr WHELAN: Read my speech of 1991. Read my history. Go to the Supreme Court and see that I went surety for Tim Anderson. In fact, more members of the Australian Labor Party than members of the coalition have tried to reveal the truth. These are the people who went surety: Whelan, Hatton, Read, Coxsedge - she is from Victoria - Jones, Vallentine, Senator McLean, Ernie Page, Andrew Refshauge, Gerry Hand, Ted Mack, George Wetherell and Tom Roberts. Where are the members of the Liberal Party? Where are the members of the National Party? Coalition members have jumped on the political bandwagon for purely political purposes with this serious issue involving Australian security. When Premier Carr sent a letter to me as Minister for Police he said, "Open up all the files. You have to exercise your discretion, on advice from the Crown Solicitor. The presumption is that the Government and its agencies will make all files available except where there is a legally compelling reason not to do so or where the safety and security of a person is likely to be immediately prejudiced."

Mr Collins: And the Commonwealth stops you.

Mr WHELAN: In 1991 the Leader of the Opposition had a direction from this Parliament as Attorney General to negotiate with the Labor Federal Attorney-General but did nothing. The Leader of the Opposition referred to Mr Griffiths, who is in the gallery today. He made an inquiry of the Premier's Office. I have been advised that the matter concerned the question of whether a file existed on meetings between the former Attorney General, Frank Walker, and the scientist, and it was not a file on the substantive question of the Walker allegation. That was made clear to Mr Griffiths in a subsequent conversation with him after clarification with the Cabinet Office. I have been urging Federal Government cooperation. The matter has been taken to the Federal Labor Party at the highest level. As a publicity stunt former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser was called to the witness box at the trial of the three young men who were incarcerated. What did Malcolm Fraser do about this issue when he was Prime Minister? Much of the material in the archives is defamatory. Rather than be sullied by claims such as that made by the honourable member for Eastwood, we have blocked out the names of people for their own safety.

Mr Tink: What is this?

Mr WHELAN: It looks like a piece of paper with black lines on it. If you let me look at it, I will tell you what it is.

Mr Tink: It is a piece of paper with parts that have been blacked out.

Mr WHELAN: If the honourable member has any qualms about it, he can put a question on notice.

Mr Tink: You tell me what it is - some kid playing with a textacolour? It is censorship.

Mr WHELAN: Censorship? Ask the man you are sitting next to what was in the unabridged document when he was Attorney General. He had access to it. He had those documents. If he is so concerned about the matter, why does he not have a copy of the document? He is nothing but a hypocrite. He had the documents for seven years. They were there for his eyes only. He was the Attorney General, the first law officer. After March 1995 he went blind. He is a hypocrite. Why did he not do what the Premier did and table the papers? Because he did not have the courage of his convictions. He is only a Johnny-come-lately on this issue. [Time expired.]

Mr COLLINS (Willoughby - Leader of the Opposition) [12.45]: What an extraordinary performance! I have never seen a government ducking for cover in the way that we have just seen with the Minister for Police. It is obvious that the Carr Government is happy to act as an agent of the Federal Government in this matter. It is happy to see the veil of secrecy remain across the Hilton bombing affair. It is all very well releasing a bundle of documents that provide the State's perspective on this
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issue. Ever since I spoke about this matter I have consistently said that the only way the people of Australia will ever get to the bottom of our greatest political crime is with a joint Federal-State inquiry. The documents that have been released - with all the blacked out sections, the World War II style censorship -

Mr Whelan: Ask Mr Griffiths why some of the -

Mr COLLINS: You ask him in the press conference after this debate is over. The Labor Party must stop this piecemeal approach to the issue. What does it have to hide at this stage? Why is it acting as a branch office of the Keating Government on this issue all these years down the line? It makes no sense. Why is it releasing these documents in a flurry of self-congratulation and saying that it has done its bit, it has dealt with the Hilton bombing issue and it is all over now? I reluctantly draw the conclusion, having heard the Minister for Police, that the Government has decided that this is where the issue stops. The documents released do not contain most of the Commonwealth documents held by agencies such as the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Department of Defence. The Minister knows that those documents are missing from the files. The operational orders and procedures are not contained in the documents. That is why the Minister is covering up for the Keating Government, which has now had 13 years to do something on the issue.

For the life of me I cannot understand why the Federal Government would have anything to hide but, plainly, with the successive actions of Federal Attorneys-General in blocking the holding of a joint Commonwealth-State inquiry, the matter will not be fully investigated. There has been a public relations stunt by the Carr Government to make people think that all the documents have been released. The documents released are not all the documents. The documents of the Commonwealth agencies involved in the massive security operation to protect the Commonwealth heads of government have not been released and will not be released while ever the Labor Party is in power at Federal or State level. It is ludicrous to suggest that the New South Wales police alone would have run a security operation to protect the heads of state of the entire Commonwealth. It is utterly ludicrous.

Mr Whelan: Tell us what you did.

Mr COLLINS: I made sure that the coalition supported a joint resolution of this House, which the Minister for Police also supported - he is a hypocrite. That resolution called for a joint Federal-State inquiry into the Hilton bombing. Now that the Labor Party is in a position to apply pressure on its Federal mates in the Keating Government it is doing nothing.

Mr Whelan: Why didn't you release the files?

Mr COLLINS: Shower the documents around and tell anyone interested they have to find the evidence through the blacked-out areas - it is a World War II style of censorship. The Federal documents remain under lock and key in Canberra. Australia will never get to the bottom of the Hilton bombing until those documents are released and Commonwealth witnesses are compelled to appear before a royal commission representing both Federal and State interests. The Hilton bombing is Australia's greatest unsolved political crime. The Australian people deserve better than this stunt; they deserve better than today's performance by the Minister for Police. This red-herring exercise of the Carr Government is not enough. Questions remain unanswered. The Hilton bombing remains a scandal. It is an unsolved crime.

Mr MILLS (Wallsend) [12.50]: The Minister for Police has moved an amendment to the motion of the honourable member for Eastwood. The amendment congratulates the Carr Government on its historic action in opening the Hilton bombing files. I have listened to this debate with interest. Members of the Opposition have said, "We did this, and you didn't do that." The response from the Government has been, "No, we are doing this." It is important to put on the record what the Carr Labor Government has done recently with respect to the Hilton bombing matter. I shall quote from a letter dated 15 August 1995 which the Premier sent to the Prime Minister. It states:
      Dear Mr Keating
      I refer to my recent decision to open the NSW Government's files on the Hilton bombing affair as outlined in my press release dated 24 July 1995.
      I am keen to ensure that all possible files are made available under this exercise and I have asked the relevant State Government agencies to comply with the request.
      The general principle governing the commitment is a presumption in favour of release and opening of the files unless there is a compelling reason not to do so.
      State Government files held by the Cabinet Office and other key agencies such as the Attorney General's Department and the Police Service contain correspondence, reports and advice in relation to the Hilton bombing dating back to 1977 exchanged between State and Commonwealth Government leaders, Ministers and officials.
      In July this year the Federal Attorney General, the Hon M Lavarch, MP, indicated publicly that he was prepared to cooperate fully with any inquiry considered necessary by NSW to investigate the matter and offered to provide full access to information. In the circumstances, I seek your concurrence to the public release of all papers emanating from the Commonwealth and held on State Government files.
      I have asked State Government agencies to be in a position to forward copies of all papers to the NSW Archives Authority by 25 August. The file opening will commence as soon as possible after that date and public inspection will be permitted for a period of six weeks. I would welcome advice of your cooperation with the exercise before that date.
      Yours sincerely
      Bob Carr
      Premier

This letter shows that the Carr Government has been proactive and has done the right thing. It should be congratulated in accordance with the amendment moved by the Minister for Police. The Leader of the
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Opposition keeps saying that this is a stunt. This letter shows that it is not a stunt; it is an action of responsibility.

Mr KERR (Cronulla) [12.54]: The honourable member for Eastwood raised a number of questions, which have not been answered, in relation to the files and material that have been placed before the House. The Premier has released all of this information. The essential point which has missed the Minister for Police is that this was an operation to protect the heads of state of the Commonwealth nations. It is absolutely unbelievable that a member would come into this House and imply that this was purely a State operation. What nonsense.

Mr O'Farrell: A Demidenko operation.

Mr KERR: It would defy an award-winning novelist to come up with that sort of lie. It is a novel approach. It was not a publicity stunt for the former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, to be called as a witness. He was an essential ingredient in the case. He was the host; he was present; he was a witness to the proceedings. The defence would have screamed its head off if Malcolm Fraser had not gone into the witness box. The Prime Minister is not immune from being a witness in criminal proceedings. If Bob Hawke had been the Prime Minister and the host he would have been called as a witness at the insistence of the defence. The heads of government meeting was a major Commonwealth operation. When the Leader of the Opposition was the Attorney General he called for a joint State-Federal inquiry.

The Labor Party's mates in Canberra should have acceded to that request; they should have said, "Yes, this is a matter that should be examined." The Labor Party deserves some credit because of what it did for Tim Anderson. Had that joint inquiry taken place we would perhaps be a little closer to knowing the truth. We may never know the truth in relation to the Hilton bombing. So much has never been committed to paper. The Minister for Police is a little closer to the present Prime Minister and a number of Federal Cabinet Ministers than is the Leader of the Opposition. However, he has not used his advocacy to say that this is an important matter. I went surety for Tim Anderson because I believed that he was entitled to the benefit of the doubt. This motion is about something bigger than the reputation of one individual. It is about national security. We often hear that cliche.

Mr Schultz: It is about possible political assassination.

Mr KERR: Yes, that is true. That is what is at issue.

Mr Whelan: Who did it?

Mr KERR: Yes, we have to find out who did it, how they did it and what safeguards are needed to ensure that it never happens again. Australia has had an enviable reputation in the international community. This issue is important because it relates to Australia's international reputation. The Hilton incident was not to Australia's credit. There were big question marks as to what was available and what was not available to the Crown. The honourable member for Eastwood raised a number of questions which deserve answers. This motion should be passed for all of those reasons. The Leader of the Opposition has maintained an interest in this matter for a long time, as has been acknowledged by the Minister for Police on a number of occasions in this House.

Mr TINK (Eastwood) [12.59], in reply: I thank honourable members for their contributions to this debate. I am confident that the House will pass this motion unanimously, as it did on the last occasion. However, I must say something about the amendment moved by the Leader of the House. The exercise embarked on of opening the files was opposed by the head of the Cabinet Office, Mr Griffiths. I thought it was unwise to do so because the revelations would always be only partial and would create more issues and problems than they would solve. That has turned out to be the case. It remains to be seen whether in the opening of the files anyone has been tipped off and is now able to trim his cloth so that in any subsequent inquiry he will unjustifiably get off. It is a huge risk, and it is one of my concerns about the exercise just undertaken. It is plain that opening the files is only a partial exercise. I have seen a number of files with large parts blanked out. Mr Griffiths tells me that he was at the Archives Authority of New South Wales yesterday and saw one file with 86 separate parts deleted. Ninety per cent of the file contained blank pages, each with a note stating that the page had been deleted.

With respect to the Leader of the House, it is a joke to suggest this is an open exercise. I have taken instructions on what the Leader of the House said about Mr Hawker. I have had the opportunity to put that matter to Mr Griffiths as well, and he said that Mr Hawker told him quite voluntarily, "The file relating to the Haines and Hogan matter concerning the Walker allegations about the scientist had been located". With great respect to the Leader of the House, Mr Hawker and everyone else involved, that seems to me to be a fairly simple proposition. That series of documents somehow, somewhere, for some reason, has been pulled back. That is a matter of utmost concern because it relates to a series of very serious allegations, supported by two Federal Cabinet Ministers, implicating the Commonwealth.

The Federal Attorney-General, a colleague of Government members, is showing the most unbelievable bloody-minded, stupid, intransigence in relation to this matter that I have ever experienced. Having scrutinised the matter and having closely examined the Holditch report, it is easy to be paranoid. The Leader of the House claimed that these issues had been ventilated over a long period of time. Some of them have and some of them have not. By their nature some of them are rolling along, as it were, relatively late in the piece. The involvement of the Attorney General's Department, and Mr Haines and Mr Hogan in particular, in the public arena is a
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late development arising out of the Holditch inquiry. I commend pages 51 and 52 of the report of that inquiry to all members of this House, all Federal members and all Federal Cabinet Ministers.

Paragraph 278 on page 51 indicates that Mr Holditch was given permission by the Attorney-General to inquire into the matter. It is as though somebody has taken a pair of scissors and cut out whatever followed because what follows immediately is a notation that he concluded the inquiry and found there was no problem. There is no mention of whether he looked for the scientist, talked to the scientist, or inquired into any of those matters. No analysis appears of what he might or might not have found. That strikes me as very odd. The only thing it sits well is the approach of the Federal Attorney-General to this whole issue. It is untenable for the Federal Government to claim that this is a State matter. If ever there was a matter that is clearly not a State matter, it is this issue, bearing in mind the evidence on the public record of two Federal Cabinet Ministers and, I regret to say, the total intransigence of the Commonwealth Attorney-General. I hope this document comes to light and that the Attorney or the Premier raises the matter with the Prime Minister and that someone prevails upon the Federal Attorney-General to agree that an inquiry should be held.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion as amended agreed to.