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Friday, 11 November 1927
Page: 1342

Senator KINGSMILL - They were, but the committee did not give them to the gentleman who revealed them. I am at a loss to know who gave them to him. The only persons who were in a position to do so were the directors of the Australian Commonwealth Line, who had them in their possession.

Senator Chapman - And they deny responsibility for the disclosure.

Senator KINGSMILL - In no circumstances would any one be justified in revealing highly confidential cablegrams which had a very important bearing on the findings of the Public Accounts Committee They were not the property of the committee; they were the property of the directors of the Line, who produced them and to> whom, after their contents had been noted by the committee, they were returned. Apart from the fact that thesecablegrams had a very decided effect on. the findings of the committee, and apart from the fact that a government activity is involved, importers and exporters, representatives of chambers of commerce, who had not so much to conceal, and other gentlemen who came before the committee - commercial men of high standing who made plain what their dealings were on the pledge of confidence - would, I think, be justly horrified if their confidential evidence were laid on the table of the Senate. If it be thought desirable that future inquiries should be held in public, well and good, but the committee that conducts an inquiry, so> to speak, in open court, does not get a true realization of affairs to the extent that it would if its investigantions were m camera. Some witnessescome before a committee with axes togrind and when the sittings are in public stress before it, so that it may appear in the daily press, some aspect that is likely to do them good. They, soto speak, wave- flags, but in many casesdo not express their individual opinions. I have had actual experience of this sort of committee work, not only here but in. other places, and my experience is tha? you only get the true inwardness of the evidence of a witness when he knows that it is not going beyond the committee. If a witness has been given that pledge of confidence it would be not only ungrateful, but treacherous on the part of thisParliament, to violate that pledge.

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