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Thursday, 6 September 1984
Page: 596


Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General) —by leave-For the benefit of the Clerks of this place, who are being maligned, what the Clerks were asked by me to do was to look at situations where committees had been created that were evenly divided between government and non-government members and to tell me what the situation had been with respect to a casting vote and, accordingly, who in turn was in control. The reason why the conciliation and arbitration committee referred to did not turn up, I am now advised, was not because of a situation of even numbers; it was a situation of three, three and one. I am indebted to honourable senators for correcting the record and making clear not only the integrity and credibility of the Clerks but also their competence. They did very well indeed the job that was asked of them. The principle still remains exactly the same. In every instance over the years where committees have been created with equally divided membership, they have been created in circumstances where the Government keeps control. In any event, I imagine, with respect, that Senator Harradine was the next best thing to being in the Government at that stage.