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Tuesday, 13 June 2006
Page: 19

Senator LUDWIG (1:43 PM) —Not to make this matter more trouble than it is—and I know that you have said it is a straightforward amendment, Senator Allison—but I want to ask a question. I follow (3A)(b) and it might quite easily be that I have missed the point of (3A)(a), which says ‘there is a likelihood of criminal proceedings arising where the document may be used’. I will put that aside, although I do want a better explanation of what that actually means and how it would operate. I do not have any trouble with (3A)(b) in the sense that it makes plain that where ‘there is a likelihood that inspection may cause a member of the commission to be biased’ it is a straightforward issue that is easily ascertainable and quite clear. So I think you are right about that.

My understanding is that the problem with the ‘criminal proceedings’ reference is that—and I have had to do this a bit on the run—commissions always tend to run the risk of running into difficulties by publishing documents, proceedings and evidence that they gain. Royal commissions usually wend their way through as best they can because they are after the truth of the matter. It sometimes happens that they run over some of those issues; they deal with them as they arise. But it certainly does not deter or stop them—they park it, in that sense.

There is also the other matter, in which I was trying to work out whether you meant this: if it were a criminal proceeding, would they admit it? Of course, it would then be part of the record. That would be royal commission work anyway; they would make that decision whether or not it was, which goes back to my earlier comments. But if it were not admitted then there is really no problem, in the sense that if it might lead to a criminal matter they might choose not to do that anyway. Therefore it does not become admitted, it is not part of the matter that is before the commission and for that reason it would not necessarily taint any future criminal matters. I am sorry to put you on the spot like this, Senator Allison, but I do want a further explanation of (3A)(a). I can agree to (3A)(b), so your choice in that sense—depending on whether or not you want our support—is to try to convince me on (3A)(a) or to delete (a) of (3A) and renumber (b) as (a). We would then support it.