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Wednesday, 17 October 1984
Page: 1850

Senator SCOTT —My question is directed to the Attorney-General. It also relates to his attempt to justify his action or, more accurately, inaction, over the Age tapes. Does the Attorney agree that ever since his statement to the Senate on 28 February, his main concern has been to stifle and restrict debate and action by Parliament on the matters raised in the tapes? Does he agree that if this misguided tactic had been successful, that is, if the Parliament had not exerted its rights, the serious matters raised by Chief Magistrate Briese might never have come to public attention? Would he have preferred that Mr Briese's allegations had never seen the light of day?

Senator GARETH EVANS —It is fascinating to see the sensitivity the Opposition has to any kind of reasoned statement of the Government's position on this and the urge it feels in those circumstances to come up with the absurd and pathetic orchestrated attack, if it can be so dignified with that description, it has made today. I do not accept that any part of the Government's actions since the beginning of this year have involved an attempt or a motivation to stifle debate in any shape or form whatsoever. I do not propose to respond specifically to Senator Scott's question. I do not think it would be proper to do so in the light of the Senate committee inquiry which is now proceeding and the stage it has reached, not to mention the difficulties of being accurate in responding to a hypothetical situation as to whether Mr Briese might ever have felt motivated to come to light with his allegations had it not been for the first Senate inquiry.