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Friday, 5 December 1986
Page: 3468


Senator NEWMAN(9.33) —I am a member of the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts. I would like to make some comments on matters which were raised earlier this morning. I am very concerned about Senator Colston saying that he was not advised by me that this matter was to be proposed. I discussed the matter with my colleagues earlier this week and as a result I telephoned the secretary of this Committee, whom I believe to be a most excellent secretary. Contrary to what Senator Colston has, I think, implied, we have been extremely well served by our staff. Nevertheless, I advised the secretary that I would support this motion before the chamber. The secretary advised me that I was not the first Opposition senator who had contacted him, that Senator Teague had done so already. I told the secretary that the purpose of my phone call was to ask him formally to advise the Chairman that this matter would be raised. For the Chairman to say, as he said earlier this morning, that he had heard it in the corridors-I forget the exact expression he used; it was something to do with gossip that one gets in the corridors-was quite untrue and totally unfair to our most excellent staff.

I also take great exception to Senator Colston's comments regarding a quorum. As he knows only too well, for many months this Committee has been able to operate only by my two colleagues and me providing him with a quorum, meeting after meeting. That Committee would not have sat at all if it had not been for the loyal support which the Chairman has received from my colleagues and me. I take great exception to the way he has referred to us today. I am very sad about the current state of affairs because I feel that the extremely good working relationship we have had with our Chairman seems to have disintegrated lately after he lost a vote and adjourned a meeting abruptly. That may have something to do with the tension he is currently facing and I regret it. But I feel it is very important that slurs on me, my colleagues and the staff who serve this Committee should immediately be dispelled. They should be dispelled not only by me but also by the Chairman who has seen fit to use this chamber to cast such slurs.