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Thursday, 28 March 1985
Page: 971


The PRESIDENT —Earlier today Senator Townley spoke in the Senate and drew the attention of the Senate to an alleged misuse of a Senate committee room. Senator Townley stated that he was present at a Press conference this morning in Senate Committee Room No. 3 when people other than senators and members were interviewed by members of the Press.

The Usher of the Black Rod has advised me that the room was booked in the name of a member of the House of Representatives. The long-established rules state that Press conferences may be held in Parliament House only by senators or members, a State Premier attending a Premiers' Conference or a foreign dignitary paying an official visit to the Parliament.

I have now written to all senators and members drawing their attention to the rules for the use of rooms in Parliament House for the convening and holding of Press conferences. I have also given instructions to the Usher of the Black Rod that he is to remind senators, members and their staff of these rules on each occasion a committee room is booked for a Press conference.

As to Senator Townley's reference to the security of this building, honourable senators will be aware that senators and members may invite whomever they please to visit them in Parliament House. Any visitors to Parliament House are required to undergo the usual security checks and, in this instance, I am advised that the proper procedures were followed. The Security Controller had no knowledge, and therefore neither the Speaker nor I had any prior knowledge of the visit to Parliament House of the people referred to by Senator Townley.