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Wednesday, 10 October 1984
Page: 1599


Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition)(7.10) —Before Senator Tate leaves the chamber, perhaps I could just make a quick comment. I did not make any comment this morning about the matters which have arisen over the last 24 hours relating to the Senate Select Committee on Allegations Concerning a Judge. They have been matters of considerable public interest, and the Senate Select Committee itself chose to make a statement this morning about them. I do not wish to make a speech about them now, but I think that it would be desirable if the record of the Senate for today included the statement which was made by the Chairman of the Select Committee on behalf of the Committee. I simply seek leave, Mr President, to have that statement incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows-

SENATE SELECT COMMITTEE ON ALLEGATIONS CONCERNING A JUDGE

Statement by Chairman

The attention of the Committee has been drawn to certain remarks concerning the Committee made in the House of Representatives yesterday by the Hon. Mr Lionel Bowen.

The very establishing of the Committee and the manner in which the Committee should go about its tasks are matters of political controversy. They were so within the Senate itself and no doubt are to be considered legitimate areas of comment both supportive and critical.

That area is to be distinguished from the actual operations of the Committee within the terms of the resolution of the Senate.

Within the rules of procedure as laid down, the Committee has been scrupulously careful to admit into evidence only those matters which would be admitted before a court in a criminal trial.

In this it has had the benefit of the advice of the Commissioners Assisting. Mr J. L. C. Wickham, Q.C. and Mr F. X. Connor, Q.C.-two distinguished retired judges, and the myriad of counsel have ensured that no opportunity to consider the exclusion of evidence is let pass.

In particular, it is quite wrong to suggest, as Mr Bowen did yesterday in another place, that any evidence has been improperly admitted. On the contrary, on Monday hearsay evidence was excluded despite strenuous and lengthy submissions that it be admitted.

Again, the Committee was at pains last Thursday to suppress the name of a person whose trial might be prejudiced by the publication of his name. The suppression order caused uproar in the media and protest from the Premier of New South Wales. The Committee shares Mr Bowen's concern in that regard. It is a pity others did not.

In these respects Mr Bowen's criticism of the actual proceedings of the Committee were unfounded. Neither Mr Bowen nor many commentators are attending to the elementary fact that the making of allegations by way of admissible evidence is the way in which any judicial trial proceeds. It is another question altogether whether the allegations are substantiated at the end of the day, and if so what weight to attach to them.

The Committee notes that Mr Bowen, in a statement issued late last night, states that he did not intend to cast any reflection on the integrity of members of the Committee.

The Committee acknowledges this somewhat repentant addendum to yesterday's attack. But we emphasise that that attack was mistaken in its suggestions 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.

10 October 1984


Senator CHANEY —I thank the Senate.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Senate adjourned at 7.10 p.m.