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Friday, 1 June 1984
Page: 2334

Senator ZAKHAROV(9.29) —I wish to make it quite clear that I support the report of Estimates Committee D. I do not intend to go into the details. As the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Chaney) obviously is about to make allegations about the slaves of Caucus, et cetera, I will refer to that anyway. I point out that votes on party lines are mentioned on several occasions in the first minority report.

This morning Senator Martin said that the Australian Labor Party has used its numbers. There is never any mention of the Opposition using its numbers or any suggestion that people can make rational decisions without being told, and without having to take the legal advice of their colleagues during committee meetings, I might add. I believe there was nothing in yesterday's operation, during the two meetings which the Committee held, to justify these public servants being called, in spite of what I consider amounted to an interrogation of public servants, and of Dr Taloni in particular. It was not a seeking of information; it came nearer to the behaviour that one might see in a court of law rather than what I would expect in a Senate committee.

Senator Walters —When your Minister will not tell the truth, other action has to be taken.

The CHAIRMAN —Order!

Senator ZAKHAROV —That matter has already been debated at some length in this place on a previous occasion. I thought we were over with the censure motion.

The CHAIRMAN —Order! Senator Walters will withdraw that remark.

Senator Walters —I withdraw.

Senator ZAKHAROV —Dr Taloni in particular had grave allegations made against him . I do not propose to read them out because I do not want to give them any further air. But those allegations were made in the original minority report. Nitpicking arguments are now being used and were used yesterday, to justify those allegations. There did not seem to me to be anything that came out of yesterday's line of questioning except that the behaviour of the questioners was , in my mind, reprehensible. As I said before, there were stages when I wondered whether I was in a Senate committee. I was told by Senator Peter Baume yesterday : 'You do not understand; you are new to this place'. I have been present at all the meetings of Estimates Committee D since I have been in the Senate and I think I have enough understanding of the committee system and of common decent behaviour towards public servants to reject what has been done on this occasion. Like Senator Coates, I hope that I will not have to be associated again with the same people on that Committee.