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Thursday, 6 September 1984
Page: 596

Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition) —by leave-It is important to note that while the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) was blaming those who had provided assistance to him, he asked them the wrong question. It was never the proposition of the Opposition that there should be a committee made up equally of members of Government and Opposition; it was never the proposition of the Opposition that there should be a committee which was dominated by this Opposition. The proposition we put forward in Senator Durack's motion was that there should be one representative of the Government, one of the Opposition and one of the Australian Democrats. In other words, there was no question of this Opposition having control. There was the question of no party- not the Democrats, the Opposition or the Government-having control.

It is important to note, if one is interested in genuine parallels between what we were proposing and what has happened in the past, that not only was there the recent example mentioned by Senator Durack-overlooked by the Attorney-General because he had asked the Clerks the wrong question-but there was also something I would have thought would be within the memory of the Attorney-General because I think that he was working as a consultant at the time it occurred. I refer to the Committee on the Civil Rights of Migrant Australians. I think that was a very contentious Committee and I should have thought that a scholar like the Attorney-General would remember it. On that occasion also there was not a government majority or a government chairman. Because the Attorney set out to blame those who advised him, I want to make it quite clear that the Attorney, as usual, has asked the wrong question. As a result he has given us the wrong answer.