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Thursday, 28 May 1998
Page: 3379

Senator MURRAY (3:11 PM) —by leave—It is proper that the Senate consider the issues that the Minister representing the Minister for Workplace Relations has outlined for us but I am inclined to be a little sceptical, in that, by my count, this is the fourth time on industrial relations that the minister has refused to supply documents on the order of the Senate. That makes the minister a habitual offender. A first timer, as you know, always gets very good treatment, but a habitual offender gets a different approach.

I would like to put a suggestion to the Senate in view of the serious matters put forward by the minister and the claim of convention with regard to practices concerning the court and the matters at hand. I would request, with those who supported the motion with me, that we ascertain from the Clerk of the Senate appropriate advice on this matter so that we can deal with it objectively and properly and not react to the matter immediately. Obviously our approach would be that, if the minister were found to be uncooperative, the Senate should be uncooperative in return but, if the minister has good grounds for withholding information, we would have regard to them. My request to the other parties that supported my motion is that they would give me leave to request from the Clerk of the Senate appropriate advice.

The PRESIDENT —You do not need leave to ask the Clerk of the Senate for advice, but he would not be likely to be giving it at the present time. We need time to consider the statement made by the minister, and the Clerk would give advice to you, other senators or to me, as he does on appropriate occasions.