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Tuesday, 2 October 1984
Page: 1009


Senator CHANEY —My question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. I refer to the final report of the Costigan Royal Commission into the Activities of the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union and to public interest in the contents of that report. Given the obvious desirability of getting Mr Costigan's report on the public record as soon as possible, I ask: Does the Leader of the Government agree that Parliament should be kept in session to receive the Costigan report? Does he expect Federal Parliament to be sitting after Mr Costigan's reporting date of the 31st of this month, or is there a likelihood that the House of Representatives will have been dissolved for the Prime Minister's early election? In that event, will the Government agree to the tabling of this report in the Senate?


Senator BUTTON —I have really been asked three questions. One is whether I believe the report of the Costigan Commission will be available before Parliament rises for this year for whatever reason. I believe on the basis of public statements made by Mr Costigan that his report will be available later this year. I was asked also whether I believe it should be tabled in the Parliament. A number of issues are involved in that question. They have been canvassed already in public debate. I think the Government would be concerned to try to provide a situation in which the maximum amount of material emanating from Mr Costigan's report was tabled consistent with the need to protect certain liberties of particular individuals, if that question arises. I am not able to speculate on an early election. That is a matter for the Prime Minister, who will make an announcement in due course.


Senator CHANEY —Mr Deputy President, I ask a supplementary question. The Leader of the Government did not really address himself to the question I asked about keeping Parliament in session to receive the Costigan report and whether, if the House of Representatives had risen, the Government would agree to table the report in the Senate. I ask him to address those two points if he can.


Senator BUTTON —I am not in a position to make a conclusive statement on that issue. The matter will be addressed and I will seek to provide the Leader of the Opposition with an answer as soon as possible.