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Thursday, 20 May 1965

Senator BISHOP (South Australia) . - I support the representations which have been made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) and the Deputy Leader (Senator Kennelly). I think that with Senator Wright they have made out a clear case on what seems to be a very simple and easily recognised proposition. I cannot follow the approach that Senator Sir William Spooner has made. I see the proposition simply in this light: In 1962 the Senate tested a proposition introduced by Senator Kennelly, in relation to an inquiry into these matters. The matters having been debated, Government supporters decided to reject the request for an inquiry. The need for an inquiry having been disclaimed by the Government, the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony), who is an instrument of the Government, decided to carry on some sort of inquiry himself or at least to authorise some person to conduct research. It seems to me that the question of who will perform the task is only incidental. The important thing is that having had the proposal tested in, and rejected by, the Senate and by the Government, a Minister, responsible to Cabinet and the Parliament, then decided to institute an inquiry into a proposition in relation to which the Senate, in particular, would not be able to investigate, persuade, direct or analyse. In this respect I also support Senator Mattner.

Having done this, and having decided there were good reasons to reject the Opposition's 1962 proposal the Government decided there was some merit in allowing a specially trained person to conduct certain inquiries and afford advice to it. Obviously the Government should have advised the Senate and the Parliament of its decision because the decision of the Minister was in direct conflict with a decision of the Senate. There should have been some reconciliation between the two performances of the Government.

To my mind this is a very simply stated proposition. It is obviously improper for a sum of money to be voted by the Parliament having in mind that we had rejected in principle basically the kind of inquiries which it is proposed shall now be undertaken. It could be argued that the present research will be on other than the general nature of the inquiry we proposed, but I suggest that Senator Kennelly's proposition was in fact that there should be such an inquiry. The proposition was put to the Senate and it was rejected. In that circumstance nothing should be done about the particular excursion now under review until the Senate has had a chance to debate it.

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