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Tuesday, 17 February 1987
Page: 28

(Question No. 1492)

Senator Colston asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 13 November 1986:

Have private firms been contracted to provide a reporting service for Commonwealth Arbitration Hearings in Brisbane or elsewhere in October 1986; if so, is this a new arrangement and what payments were made to private firms for their services rendered and did this include any payment for airfares.

Senator Gareth Evans —The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question.

During October 1986, Commonwealth Reporting Service (CRS) reporting and transcription commitments from Commonwealth courts and tribunals throughout Australia had accumulated to the extent that for a period of two weeks, commencing 27 October 1986, CRS was unable to provide a reporting service to a number of sittings of courts and tribunals. The Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Commission was one of the tribunals affected during that period.

In the circumstances it was necessary for the Arbitration Commission to engage private reporting resources to provide a transcript of proceedings before Commissioners in Brisbane and elsewhere. For that purpose, the Arbitration Commission engaged the private reporting firm contracted to the Attorney-General's Department to provide a reporting service to CRS.

In the normal course of its daily operations, CRS does engage private reporting firms to undertake workload that is excess to capacity, but the engagement undertaken by the Arbitration Commission was in addition to that procedure to enable its members to deal with industrial disputes.

I have been advised by the Arbitration Commission that accounts have been rendered by the contractor to the Commission totalling $27 036 and that that figure includes a component for air fares amounting to $3 770.