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Thursday, 6 September 1984
Page: 595


Senator DURACK(5.24) —The Opposition will oppose the amendments moved by Senator Haines because it believes that the Government has forfeited any right to be in control of the Senate Select Committee on Allegations Concerning a Judge. This Government from go to whoa has behaved disgracefully. In particular, the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) has been a disgrace to his office in the way in which this matter has been dealt with. It is not often that an Opposition in the Senate seeks to prevent a government having control of a committee of the Senate, but there are precedents --


Senator McIntosh —In 1974.


Senator DURACK —We do not have to go back until then. We need go back only two years when those opposite were in opposition and set up a committee, which the then Government did not control, to investigate the then Government's proposals for major amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. That is a very clear and recent precedent, and there are plenty of other precedents.

In this case the reason that the Opposition is not prepared to agree to the Government having control of this Committee is that the Government has forfeited that right because of the attitude it has exhibited to this problem from the word go, particularly its attitude in relation to the matter before us this week when the Attorney-General has deliberately gone out of his way, supported by the Government to my astonishment because I thought the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) might have been able to take a slightly more statesmanlike view of this problem, to deny any co-operation to the Senate. Over and over again that denial of co- operation has been made by the Attorney-General inside and outside this chamber. In those circumstances the Opposition frankly does not trust the Government to behave in an honourable way in relation to this Committee. I am sorry to have to say that, but that is the situation revealed by the approach of the Attorney- General. We are not going to support any amendments which give the Government, in its present mood and in view of its likely attitude to this Committee, control of the Committee.