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Wednesday, 3 June 1970


Mr Clyde Cameron (HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon notice:

(1)   Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Industrial Court has recently ruled that a person on subpoena to produce papers or documents in proceedings before that Court may simply swear that such papers or documents are not in his possession and cannot thereafter be crossexamined by the person who issuesthe subpoena as to the whereabouts of such papers or documents?

(2)   In view of the position which is created by the Court's ruling, will the Government make such new regulations or amendments to the Act as are necessary to ensure that any party to proceedings before the Commonwealth Industrial Court shall be empowered to subpoena and to cross-examine on the whereabouts of such material as may be needed to enable the Court to make a proper and fair assessment of the issues before it?


Mr Hughes - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows: (1)) and (2) I think the case that the honourable member has in mind is Barnes v. Oliver and Ors. (B. No. 202 of 1970 in the Commonwealth Industrial Court), in which the Court ruled that a person who had been subpoenaed to produce certain documents could not be questioned by the party who had caused the subpoena to be issued to test the veracity of answers given by the person as to the existence or whereabouts of documents that he had not produced. The party who caused the subpoena to be issued could have required the person subpoenaed to go into the witness box and give evidence in the matter generally. Had this course been adopted, the witness could not have been cross-examined by the party calling him unless the witness showed himself to be hostile. As things turned out, the party who caused the subpoena to be issued chose nol to call the person as a witness to give evidence in the matter generally. As I. understand it, the person in question was sworn merely to answer the subpoena. I am not satisfied that any amendment of the law is necessary or desirable.







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