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Electoral Redistribution Inquiry



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Page 225

ELECTORAL REDISTRIBUTION INQUIRY

SENATOR WRIEDT - My question, which is directed to the

Attorney-General, follows on the question asked by

Senator Button. As the Minister has indicated that he

is not able to give any further information or is not

able to indicate any other reason why, apart from the

fact that the knowledge became public, he altered the

terms of reference, I ask him: Had that information

been public knowledge on 23 April, would the terms of

reference - that is, the terms of reference which he

himself authorised - have remained the same?

SENATOR DURACK - That. is a completely hypothetical * I

question. I do not see how one could expect that it

could be answered, but I make it quite clear that the

drift of two questions that I have been asked so far

today seems to require me to emphasise the facts which

I detailed at some length in this place last week,

which are that the terms of reference drawn up on 24

April were drawn up in such a way as inevitably to

bring out the facts relating to Senator Withers'

involvement. That decision was explicit in the terms of

reference.

If anyone look at the terms of reference and

at the explanatory memorandum which was tendered in

evidence, they will see, as I have already said and as

I ยท say again, that the information provided to me by

Senator Withers and by Mr Pearson was sent to the Royal

Commission. In fact Mr Pearson's evidence, apart from

other things, was the first evidence brought out at the

Royal Commission, and Senator Withers was one of the

early witnesses at the Royal Commission. I would have

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thought that there was a clear indication from that

fact - from the terms of reference, from my subsequent

conduct, and from the conduct of Mr Pearson and Senator

Withers - that there can be absolutely no suggestion

that anybody was trying to hide any of the facts.

* * * * *

Page 226

STATEMENT BY PRIME MINISTER

SENATOR WRIEDT - I address a question to the

Attorney-General which follows the question asked by

Senator Button a moment ago. Has the Attorney-General

been instructed, warned, persuaded or told in any way

by the Prime Minister not to answer any further

question in respect of yesterday's statement by the

Prime Minister?

SENATOR DURACK - The answer is no.

***** '

Page 226

ELECTORAL REDISTRIBUTION INQUIRY

SENATOR BUTTON - Would the Attorney-General cast his

mind back to the meeting of the senior Ministers which

took place in Sydney on 7 August this year at which the

decision regarding Senator Withers1 position in the