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Thursday, 1 June 1972
Page: 2432

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) - by leave - The Senate is indebted to Senator Davidson for the report which he has made. He has made some observations as to what should be done by the Senate in regard to references to committees, particularly when they are large references. I remind the Senate that paragraph (12) of the charter relating to standing committees which was adopted by resolution of the Senate on 11th June 1970 states:

A Standing Committee shall have leave to report from time to time its proceedings and the evidence taken and such recommendations as it may deem fit, and is expected to make regular reports as to the progress of the proceedings of the Committee.

I think that several matters follow for our concern and observation. One matter is that the Senate Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts is making a report as to the progress of the Committee. We are indebted to Senator Davidson for doing that. Unless I am mistaken, other standing committees in general have not observed the instruction of the Senate which is contained in that charter. I think that the expectation of the Senate that standing committees make regular reports as to their progress has in general not been observed as it has been by the Standing Committee on Education, Science and the Arts. Mr President, I ask that you, through your appropriate agencies, draw to the attention of the committees that expectation of the Senate.

The next matter is that Senator Davidson has adverted to the large references and to the fact that it might be better if the committees were able to report on particular aspects of references. As I read it, that is exactly what was contemplated by the Senator in that charter. If a large reference was made to a committee there was no reason at all why the committee might not divide the matter up as it thought appropriate and make a report to the Senate on some aspect as it thought fit, not only as to what it has done but also as to what recommendations it made in regard to a particular aspect. There is no requirement that in making a report the committee has to wait until it has covered the whole of the subject matter. Indeed, with a reference such as 'all aspects of broadcasting and television,' I think it would be understood that the subject is so vast that the reference would continue with the committee and the only intelligible way to deal with the matter would be for the committee to report on aspects from time to time and to do its best without endeavouring to find perfection in a field as large as that.

Senator Rae - Mr President, I seek leave to move the adjournment of the discussion on this matter so that I may make some remarks in relation to it at a later stage. I am trying to provide an opportunity for some further remarks to be made, but not this morning.

Senator Murphy - We could do it on any Thursday morning.

The PRESIDENT - I think there is a little more than that in the back of Senator Rae's mind, if I understand subjectively what he is referring to. Senator Rae, at any time during the balance of the day you may ask leave to make some observations if you wish to.

Senator Rae - Thank you.

The PRESIDENT - Undoubtedly, the Acting Leader of the Government will take note of what you have said when he comes to arrange the business.

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