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Thursday, 22 November 1973
Page: 2032

Senator WOOD (QUEENSLAND) - I address my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate. In view of the dishonest statements being published by the media regarding the speed of the Senate's work, would the Leader of the Government consider setting up an all party committee of the Senate to supervise untruthful statements made by various sections of the media relating to the work of the Senate? Would he give to the committee power to move to bar from the Press gallery any representative of the media proved to be responsible for publishing untrue or biased reports of the Senate's work?

Senator MURPHY -No, I would not. I would not give consideration to setting up such a committee, but of course it is entirely up to the will of the Senate as to what committees it does set up. I think it would be quite undesirable for the Senate to establish a committee for that purpose. I think Senator Wood really would agree with what I am saying. I understand the purport of his question. He wants to draw attention to the fact publicly that a great deal of work is being done by the Senate. There is no doubt that over recent years there has been an enormous increase in the volume and complexity of the work of the Senate. This has been due to the voluntary expansion of our own activities through the committee system which has meant a change in the character of the Senate. It is also due to the large volume of legislation associated with the change of Government after 23 years and the desire to implement as quickly as possible new policies.

I think there ought to be public appreciation of the fact that the Senate is doing a great deal of work, not only in the hours of sitting of the Senate here but also in the Estimates committees, the legislative and general purpose committees, the select committees and so on. Where the Senate is attracting unfavourable publicity- and I think there is every entitlement for the public and the Press to comment on the Senate- is obstruction which the Opposition is giving to the carriage of measures which are part of the platform and policy upon which the Government of Australia was elected. I think the public is entitled to know that and that the Press is entitled to tell the public. The more that that is brought home to the people the better. I thank Senator Wood for drawing attention to the other matters but I do not think we should have a committee as he has suggested.

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