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Thursday, 11 October 1984
Page: 1693

Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General) —by leave-I move:

That the Senate authorises the President to provide a copy to all senators of the final report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Federated Ship Painters and Dockers Union in the form in which that report is received by him from the Prime Minister.

Mr Costigan has informed the Government that he will present his final report by the end of October. It will be a large report of several volumes and he is likely to recommend that only parts of it be made public. The relevant Commonwealth agencies-the Attorney-General's Department, the National Crime Authority, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Australian Federal Police -will examine the report as a matter of urgency to ensure that what is published will not damage ongoing investigations or infringe civil liberties. This examination, which will be conducted in consultation with the Victorian Government, should take only a couple of days and the report, subject to such deletions as prove necessary, should be available for publication in the Victorian Parliament before it rises.

The tabling of the report in Victoria does not of itself attract privilege outside that State. That depends on the relevant laws in each State. As far as the Commonwealth is concerned, we propose to put the matter beyond doubt in the Australian Capital Territory by making an ordinance to make it clear that privilege attaches to the report, as tabled in the Victorian Parliament, in the Australian Capital Territory. In addition, the motion I am moving today and the parallel motion being moved in the House of Representatives ensures that the report will be available to all senators and members and demonstrates the Government's determination that it be made public as soon as possible. I commend the motion to the Senate.

Question resolved in the affirmative.