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Friday, 3 April 1987
Page: 1809

Senator NEWMAN(9.16) —I would like to draw attention to the responsibility of the Commission of Inquiry under clause 8-the functions clause-and ask whether, in inquiring into and reporting on the matters as set out in that clause, the Commission will have access to the following documents: A cablegram to various departments from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation dated 25 June 1982; minutes of a meeting of the Australian National Commission for UNESCO of 17 September 1982; an undated draft letter to the Tasmanian Premier from the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke); a letter to the Department of Foreign Affairs from the World Heritage Committee dated 1 September 1982? Will it sight the cablegram to various departments from UNESCO dated 22 June 1982? I also ask: Will it look at the minutes to the Department of Arts, Heritage and Environment from the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service dated 12 December 1986? Will it also have access to advice prepared by the Attorney-General's Department for this Government? Will the documents that are in the Department of Primary Industry and in the Australian Heritage Commission be made available to this Commission of Inquiry?

I have asked these questions for a very clear reason-that is, that they are all documents which are held by the three government bodies but which have been refused to me for very spurious reasons under the Freedom of Information Act. I would have thought that in a debate of such importance these documents would have been made available to a senator for Tasmania representing her constituents. Clearly, for quite unsatisfactory reasons-namely, the inability to get at the truth of the matter-they have been kept from me, at least until such time as this debate is over. They are the subject of application for an internal review which I have, at some cost to myself, now undertaken. But I ask: Will that information be available to the Commission of Inquiry when it was not available to a senator for Tasmania?