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Tuesday, 4 September 1984
Page: 395


Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —My question is directed to the Attorney-General. I ask : Is it a fact that Mr Clarrie Briese appeared twice before the Senate Select Committee on the Conduct of a Judge and submitted to cross-examination without legal representation? Is it also a fact that Mr Justice Murphy declined to appear before the Committee but was represented by a team of lawyers comprising two senior Queen's Counsel, another barrister, and solicitors? Has the Government decided to make legal aid available to the judge? If so, has any commitment been given to meet his legal expenses and what is the estimated cost to the Government of such assistance?


Senator GARETH EVANS —It is the case that in June the Government received a request from Mr Justice Murphy for financial assistance towards his legal costs of making a response to the invitation made to him to appear before the Committee. I do not believe that any similar request was made by or has been received from Mr Briese. I stand capable of correction on that, but certainly it has not come to my attention. The Government takes the view that financial assistance towards legal costs of witnesses before parliamentary committees is normally a matter for the Parliament. However, in this case it recognised that the terms of reference of the Senate Committee raised the quite fundamental constitutional issue of the relationship between the Federal judiciary and the Parliament. Accordingly, it agreed to provide assistance up to the level that was provided to the main witnesses before the Hope Royal Commission on Australia 's Security and Intelligence Agencies. Assistance has been provided on that basis. I am unable to say at this stage what the total sum has been, but I will be happy to advise the honourable senator if he pursues the point.