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Tuesday, 12 June 1984
Page: 2810

Senator GEORGES —by leave-I am surprised that Senator Chipp should extend what to me was a request for some understanding on the matter. As I clearly stated, one area of breach of privilege is a matter for the Senate Select Committee on the Conduct of a Judge itself to determine, and perhaps it has not had the opportunity to do so. But the other matter is a matter which is very clearly in breach of the privilege of the Senate-that a newspaper publishes what it purports to be the deliberations of a committee. In my experience, that would be a breach of privilege.

I have not moved the substantive motion at this stage, because I thought that honourable senators ought to be aware of the problem. If I had moved that the matter be referred to the Privileges Committee, I would have hoped that we would have deliberated that, and that alone. But what Senator Chipp seems to foreshadow is that we shall then engage in a debate on what is happening in the Committee. That is not my purpose, and it ought not to be the Senate's purpose. What the Committee is doing in private it does in private until such time as it reports. I hope that Senator Chipp is not foreshadowing that if I should move that the matter be referred, on the basis I have explained, to the Privileges Committee, we shall have a wide-ranging debate in this place about the deliberations of the Committee.

Senator Chipp —I did not say that at all.

Senator GEORGES —Senator Chipp seemed to indicate that. He talked in terms of Watergate, and in terms of restraints upon the Press. The Press has certain responsibilities.

Senator Chipp —We can say what we please about anybody, but let anyone say anything about us and we haul him up before the bar of the Senate.

Senator GEORGES —Exactly. It seems to me that Senator Chipp has taken a position which shows a lack of understanding of the privileges of the Senate. If he has a lack of understanding of the privileges of the Senate, the sooner he understands them the better. I refer him to a report, which will come to the Senate at a later stage, from the Joint Select Committee on Parliamentary Privilege, which clearly answers some of the problems that he may have in mind. But at this stage , in regard to a debate about that Committee, which we appointed for a specific purpose on a very sensitive matter, and which is conducting hearings in private, the matter should remain in private until such time as the Committee completes its deliberations. But the other matter, of a newspaper purporting to usurp the privileges of the Senate, is something that we should not take lightly.