Australia tries to plug leaks to Soviets

Australia's Labor government has survived a court inquiry into the way it exposed a Soviet spy's dealings with a former senior Labor Party official earlier this year.

But the inquiry pointed out other leaks in Robert Hawke's Cabinet.

David Combe, who had been the Labor Party's national secretary during most of the 1970s and recently started a lobbying office in Canberra, was forbidden to have dealings with Labor ministers without being told why.

The reason was that the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) had detected and taped dealings between Mr. Combe and Valery Ivanov, a first secretary in the Soviet Embassy. ASIO believed Mr. Ivanov soon would have been able to entrap Combe and use his intimate contacts with Labor ministers.

When the government was told of ASIO's discoveries last April, it ordered Ivanov out of the country within seven days. It also ordered its ministers to have no further dealings with Combe.

Prime Minister Hawke then established a royal commission to inquire into the role of the security services in general, and into the way the government had handled the affair.

The commission's 300-page report this week exonerated the government in its handling of the spy issue and Combe.

However, the commission pointed out another leak. It said that Michael Jerome Young, who had been special minister of state, had leaked information to a lobbyist friend about the Cabinet's decision concerning Ivanov and Combe.

Mr. Young resigned several months ago when it was revealed that he had leaked the information. At first Hawke said Young would be not reappointed to the government for several years.

But Young's support within the Labor caucus is so strong that he is certain to be reelected to the ministry early next year.

And Hawke now wants him to return. ''Mich . . . is an extremely able man and I do not intend that this government or this country should be denied the value of his ministerial services,'' the premier said.

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