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Wednesday, 17 October 1984
Page: 1901

Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(8.50) —I do not want to canvass any of the subsequent matters that have been mentioned by Senator Chaney, except perhaps to clarify one small factual matter that might set the sleuths on the other side into a small lather of excitement. The note to you, Mr President, from the Clerk of 12 October, which is one of the papers tabled here, indicates in the first paragraph:

Contact was made with the Attorney-General's Office, notifying them of the concern I had expressed both to you and to the Department of P.M. & C.

The suggestion perhaps flowing from that is that I was aware of the nature of the concern that had been expressed by the Clerks but, nonetheless, charged into the Senate and moved the motion accordingly. I simply want to make it clear for the record, as I have made it clear to you, Mr President, that I was not in fact aware that the Clerks had raised this question, although it had been the subject of some discussion with my office. It was just a problem of communication and in the rush of events I had not caught up with what was happening. If I can divert the Opposition's attention from any enthusiasm it might have to pursue those sorts of cares, I acknowledge that there are some substantive issues of difficulty here. Although as I said in Question Time today there is not likely to be any difficulty whatsoever so far as the eastern States are concerned, or certainly Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, if the document is tabled, as it is expected to be, in the Victorian Parliament. But there is a residual area of uncertainty so far as the other States are concerned and so far as further publications by persons other than the President and the two honourable senators are concerned. There is no easy way of resolving that degree of uncertainty, but I suggest that the problem is essentially academic and ought not detain the Senate too long. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.