PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 6158


Photo of Hawke, Robert

Hawke, Robert

Period of Service: 11/03/1983 to 20/12/1991

More information about Hawke, Robert on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 18/07/1983

Release Type: Correspondence

Transcript ID: 6158

FOR MEDIA 18 July 1983
I have today received the attached letter from the

18 July 2.983 GE: BP
The Hon Hawke, AC, MP,
Prime Minister,
Parliament House,
Canberra ACT 2600
Dear Prime Minister,
I refer to your request to me last Thursday, 14 July 1983,
for my opinion as to whether the conversation on the
evening of 21 April 1983 of the then Special Minister of
State with Mr E. J. Walsh may have involved an offence
under the Crimes Act 1914, that question having been
raised with you last Thursday morning by counsel appearing
for the Commonwealth before the Hope Royal Commission.
On the evidence available to me at this stage, the
possibility cannot be excluded that Mr Young contravened
sub-section 79( 3) of the Crimes Act ( attached). I do not
believe that, as the expression " Commonwealth officer" now
appears in the Act, sub-section 70( 1) has any application
to the situation, and no other provision in the Crimes Act
appears relevant.
However, the evidence available to me at this stage
consists only of Mr Young's statement to you on 14 July
and the statement attributed to Mr Walsh in the weekend
media ( both referred to in Mr McHugh QC's statement to the
Hope Royal Commission today) together with my own direct
knowledge of the circumstances of the ministerial meetings
on 20-21 April. It is impossible for me to give any
concluded opinion as to whether criminal proceedings could
lie in this matter until more information as to the
detailed content of Mr Young's conversation with Mr Walsh
has come to light. For all practical purposes, that will
not occur until the relevant witnesses have given their
testimony before the Royal Commission.
If, after further evidence is to hand, I should conclude
that criminal proceedings could lie, a further question
will arise, as it always does in criminal proceedings, as
to whether, in the light of Provable facts and the whole
of the surrounding circumstances, the public interest
requires that the prosecution should be instituted. I
shall have regard in this respect to the guidelines tabled
in the Parliament in December 1982, Prosecution Policy of
the Commonwealth, by the Hon. Neil Brown QC on behalf of
the then Attorney-General, Senator Peter Durack QC.

I add that the Second Law officer, the Solicitor-General
Sir Maurice Byers QC, has at my request joined me in the
examination of this matter, and he concurs in the views
expressed above.

CRIMES ACT 1914, SUB-SECTIO11 79( 3)
79.( 3) If a person communicates prescribed information,
to a person, other thana
person to whom he is authorized to
communicate it; or
a person to whom it is, in the interest of
the Commonwealth or a part of the Queen's
domninions, his dutyv to communicate it,
or permits a person, other than a person referred to in
paragraph or to have access to it, he shall be
guilty of an offence.
Penalty: Imprisonment for two years.
" Prescribed information" is defined in sub-section 79
which reads, in relevant part, as follows:
79. For the purposes of this section information is
prescribed information in relation to a person, if the
person has it in his possession or control and
he has made or obtained it owing to his
position as a person
( ii) who holdis . office under the Queen;
and by reason of its nature or the
circumstances under which it was made or
obtained by him or for any other reason, it is
his duty to treat it as secret.

Transcript 6158