Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 10 October 1984
Page: 1545

Senator ARCHER —Does the Attorney-General endorse the statement of the Senate Select Committee on Allegations Concerning a Judge this morning when it described Mr Lionel Bowen's attack yesterday as 'mistaken in its suggestion that evidence had been improperly let in and that the Committee had been reckless in failing to protect the fair trial of a person in New South Wales'? Does he agree with the Committee that Mr Bowen failed to understand the 'elementary fact that the making of allegations by way of admissible evidence is the way in which any judicial trial proceeds'? Will he now advise his senior colleague about the elementary principles of legal proceedings?

Senator GARETH EVANS —That question does have a degree of fascination, coming as it does from Senator Archer who I am sure would not appreciate the distinction between admissible and inadmissible evidence if he fell over it.

Senator Grimes —He knows all about houses though.

Senator GARETH EVANS —No doubt he may have had some experience in the courts in that respect. I am not in a position, not having either heard the whole of the proceedings down there or read any of the transcripts, to make any judgments about what the Committee has been doing in relation to its treatment of evidence on the grounds of inadmissibility or otherwise, and as such I am not in a position to make any independent judgment as to the competing merits of the statement made by Senator Tate this morning or, on that particular issue, some of the comments made by Mr Bowen. All I can say is that, with the Leader of the Government in the Senate, I have complete confidence in the Chairman and members of the Committee to act in accordance with the principles by which the Committee was set up. Similarly I have confidence in the capacity of the Commissioners assisting the Committee to advise it of the legal issues involved in the treatment of evidence.

I believe under those circumstances the Committee should be allowed simply to get on with the job, even though I am one of those many people who have strongly argued that the Committee should never have been set up, or at least should not have been set up other than as a last resort, since other much more appropriate means were available for determining the kinds of issues with which that Senate Committee is now confronted. There are larger issues which are a matter for legitimate debate, but I have nothing further to add on the particular question I was asked.