Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 10 October 1984
Page: 1594

Senator GEORGES(6.42) —I am opposed to the motion. I stated why I am opposed to the motion when I took a point of order earlier, Mr President, and you allowed me to go beyond my point of order.

The PRESIDENT —I was trying to stop you, Senator, but I could not.

Senator GEORGES —Yes, I know, Mr President. You are very tolerant. I view this matter very seriously. The Senate Select Committee on Allegations Concerning a Judge was established after some debate took place in the Senate and after some caution was expressed about its establishment and what was likely to happen before it. Honourable senators will recall that I had very strong views on the establishment of the Committee and I expressed those views in substantial terms. I now find myself in a position of having to speak again at short notice. I wanted to make some points, perhaps to extend my criticisms, to sound further warnings and to ask a number of questions of the Committee and its Chairman. Mr President, I had a number of questions to ask you concerning the Committee, the manner in which it was proceeding and what was happening to it. I now find that I am required to do that without any preparation whatsoever.

My main objection is that some honourable senators are not present in the chamber for party reasons. It might be argued that they ought to be present. But they are not here for that reason. We were given no warning of this motion at all.

Senator Mason —You should have anticipated it, Senator Georges.

Senator GEORGES —Let me say that it could be argued that it should have been anticipated. It is quite possible that I would not have been in this chamber if it were not for my having to present a report to the Senate. I remember when the previous Committee, the Senate Select Committee on the Conduct of Judge, was sitting. It made a number of applications to the Senate to extend its sittings. Those applications got past me. I would have argued against those extensions. We again have the Committee Chairman coming into the chamber at 6.45 this evening, seeking leave at the last moment, without warning anyone that this was going to be done. As I have said, this matter is not on the Notice Paper. It ought not to be done in this way.

Senator Peter Baume —How did you know?

Senator GEORGES —I did not know. I looked at the Notice Paper. Reports from committees are listed. One of the reports that were put down was my own report. There was a report from Senator Tate on a matter which was presented by Senator Gietzelt and there was a report by the Joint Statutory Committee on Public Works . No other report was listed. It is not satisfactory for the chairman of a committee of this sort to seek an extension of time for that committee to report without it being debated by the Senate.

In my view this ought to be done tomorrow morning. The Committee ought to postpone its hearings for the half hour or the hour that is necessary for the debate to take place concerning this Committee. I am concerned about the way the Committee is operating, the extension of its operation, the increased number of people who are coming before the Committee as witnesses and the number of counsel who are now representing people who are appearing before the Committee. I want to know exactly where the Committee is going. I also wanted to ask the Chairman of the Committee-this is why I am asking that this matter not proceed at present-that the Standing Orders ought--

Senator Townley —You would like to see it wrapped up, wouldn't you?

The PRESIDENT —As Senator Townley is not in his right place, I ask Senator Georges to ignore the interjection.

Senator GEORGES —Nevertheless, the interjection has been made. Whether the honourable senator was in his rightful place, I cannot ignore it. All I have to say to Senator Townley and a number of other people is that quite a number of us from both sides of this Senate want to see this Committee wound up. The evidence which is coming before the Committee at present is starting to implicate person after person, organisation after organisation, institution after institution, and all sorts of information is being dumped before the Committee. When I first spoke on this matter I warned the Senate about this. Needless to say, my warning was ignored. But the matters I warned the Senate about have actually happened.

We have a clear situation that, no matter what the Chairman of that Committee endeavours to do to restrict the presentation of evidence, it cannot be properly judged to be relevant because of the arguments that are being presented and because of the sudden presentation of material. The Chairman of the Committee is in an impossible situation. We are having judged before that Committee, no matter what the Chairman tries to do and no matter what Commissioners--

Senator Harradine —Mr President, I take a point of order. My point of order relates to relevance. The motion before us is for the suspension of Standing Orders. I cannot see the relevance of Senator Georges's current contribution to that motion.

The PRESIDENT —I have been listening to Senator Georges. I have allowed him to expand his argument as to why there should not be a suspension of Standing Orders. I tend to think Senator Georges is going a bit beyond the reasons now. I ask him to restrict his remarks to his opposition to the suspension of Standing Orders.

Senator GEORGES —I apologise to you, Mr President. When someone brings a motion into this House, almost by stealth if I might say so--

Senator Chaney —You have been following these inquiries as closely as anyone.

Senator GEORGES —I will use the honourable senator's terms now because I am beginning to feel very strongly about this matter. When a matter such as this is brought before the Senate in this way it ought to be opposed in the strongest terms. Perhaps I am transgressing the Standing Orders and moving away from the motion, but if this motion proceeds there is no other way that I can make the statements that I want to make. We would then proceed to a request that the time of the Committee be extended. It is possible that I could pick up the argument at that point. I do not want it to get to that stage because I believe that every honourable senator should be aware of the motion that is before the Senate . Honourable senators are not aware of it. No matter what anyone wants to say, it is not on the Notice Paper. Honourable senators were not made aware of it. It is a substantive matter that ought to be debated. The role of the Committee ought to be re-examined. Mr President, we need to know from you the cost to the Senate of the exercise that is going on. We want to know from you, Mr President, how many more people are going to be brought before the Committee. I want to ask you, Mr President: Is it a fact that Mr Farquhar has been sitting outside this Parliament--

The PRESIDENT —Order! The honourable senator is now getting quite wide of the terms of the motion before the Chair.

Senator Crichton-Browne —He was at the Lobby today.

Senator GEORGES —Yes, for two days he has been waiting in the Lobby for a chance to get in here. We now hear that Mr Barrie Unsworth is going to be brought before the Committee. We now also hear that there is a Mr Baird, a member of the New South Wales Parliament--

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Georges, I will have to ask you to resume your seat if you do not come back to the terms of the motion.

Senator GEORGES —Well, as I say, by the time I have finished what I am saying most honourable senators will know that the motion is before the Senate.

Senator Haines —Call a quorum; that's quicker.

Senator GEORGES —I cannot call a quorum because it would be unfair to call a quorum at this stage.

The PRESIDENT —Order! Senator Georges, I ask you to restrict your remarks to the motion before the Chair.

Senator GEORGES —It is no good Senator Chaney counting. He can count as much as he likes. There is a quorum. I do not want to have to repeat my statements later , but I am strongly opposed to the motion for the suspension of standing orders to allow that Committee to bring before the Senate, without proper notice, a very important matter. That is the reason I oppose the proposition before us at the moment.