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Friday, 1 June 1984
Page: 2391

Senator DURACK(4.12) —Mr Chairman, I do not know whether the Attorney-General was taking a point of order. This matter having been canvassed at great length on two occasions before the Estimates Committee, and detailed answers having already been provided from the Department of Aviation and from the Australian Federal Police, which I might say do not really totally explain the position, and considering that we are entitled to ask questions, presumably here, it is a bit late in the day for the Attorney-General to be taking points of order as to whether these questions really arise out of the estimates before us.

Senator Gareth Evans —On a point of order, Mr Chairman, might I suggest that you rule on this matter. I am fully entitled to take a point of order at any time. The fact that one does not do so through earlier stages, as a result of some misguided tolerance to the Opposition, is no justification whatsoever for not being able to take a point of order when one's patience and the time of the Committee runs out. We have endeavoured to be as co-operative as humanly possible. We will answer any further questions on notice that are placed in relation to this matter. We are perfectly happy to debate and articulate and explain it publicly but we are not perfectly happy to do it when it is out of order in an Estimates period which is out of time.

The CHAIRMAN —The Attorney-General is certainly entitled to take a point of order whenever he chooses. The difficulty I have with this is that it is impossible for me to determine whether these estimates are or are not affected by the coastal surveillance operations, which are the subject of the discussion. I ask, in any further development of this, that Sentor Durack indicate in some terms where the estimates are involved in the subject he is raising.

Consideration interrupted.

The CHAIRMAN —Order! It being 4.15 p.m., under sessional order I put the question:

That the Chairman do now leave the chair and report to the Senate.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

The Chairman having reported accordingly-