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Wednesday, 6 June 1984
Page: 2655

Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(5.51) —It is the kind of thing, as Senator Crichton-Browne ought to be aware, that would represent conceivably a contempt of Parliament.

Senator Georges —Well, it should be dealt with in the normal way.

Senator GARETH EVANS —It would be dealt with in the normal way. Senator Georges, who is an expert in these matters, is right. There are proper procedures for dealing with witnesses who fail to co-operate with parliamentary committees. The kinds of powers and procedures to be vested in the committee, according to this amendment, are those that are subject to specific parliamentary resolution. If the Senator is stumbling into an acceptance of this amendment without even knowing the implications of it and without being fully aware of the panoply of powers that are available to parliamentary committees-

Senator Chipp —The Senate is doing no such thing; it was a question by one senator.

Senator GARETH EVANS —I appreciate that Senator Crichton-Browne rarely speaks for his colleagues on that side of the chamber. I understand, from the vehemence of the response, that he seems to be one put out on this occasion. If any other senator who is in this chamber or listening in is equally in a state of hazy oblivion about what the functions of parliamentary committees are all about, what their powers are and what the sanctions are, he ought to think very carefully indeed about supporting this amendment.