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Thursday, 4 December 1986
Page: 3441

Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition)(11.19) —I have not been in the Senate for the bulk of the adjournment debate, but I came in to hear the latter part of Senator Giles's contribution when she was reading from what she describes as statutory declarations. I can only say that for someone to come into the Senate and produce such documents with the names blanked out is rather extraordinary. We have here a set of documents which, as far as I am concerned, speaking as a lawyer, are quite valueless. To bring documents in and purport to give them some value as being statutory declarations when the names have been blocked out is a most ludicrous act on the part of a senator.

While oral accounts of what occurred, like oral accounts of any incident which involves people who are in an emotional state and who are involved in some form of physical confrontation, invariably differ, in this case there are ample films of what occurred. I would think that anyone who was concerned to get to the truth of this matter would not do so by bringing in documents which have the names of those who purported to have made statutory declarations blocked out. They might have sought to gain access to the film material which must be very readily available. There must be a great deal of it. All I can say is that I think it is valueless to deal with this matter in the way in which it has been approached tonight by Senator Giles. I was not present at the incidents. I saw some of the film. I do not know whether Senator Giles is suggesting that the film was doctored or very selective. That is always a possibility, because in all the footage I am sure was shot, I suppose that one-tenth or less of it would have been shown on the television screen. That is the normal thing.

Senator Crichton-Browne —That has never been claimed.

Senator CHANEY —All I am saying is that I would have thought that there were probably several million Australians who would have been subjected to seeing on their television screens what occurred on that occasion. If, as Senator Crichton-Browne has interjected, nobody has suggested that there was anything lopsided in those presentations, all I can say, as someone who was not present, and as someone who has had a chance very quickly to look at these documents, to hear Senator Giles reading from them, and to hear the response of Senator MacGibbon, is that Senator Giles would have to establish an extraordinary amount of malice on the part of the media to make this hold up.

Senator MacGibbon —There were police officers within feet of all the senators.

Senator CHANEY —Senator MacGibbon interjects helpfully that there were also police officers present. I wish to say, as one who was not present but who has read a number of accounts of the matter, and who has seen some of the television footage, that these sit very oddly with the evidence which people saw with their own eyes. Quite frankly, I think that this contributes nothing to the final resolution of what the facts are. I would have thought that in the absence of the sorts of allegations which Senator Crichton-Browne tells me have not been made-and I indicated earlier that I did not hear the debate-this is an exercise which does little credit to those who have mounted it this evening.