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Thursday, 15 August 1974
Page: 999

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral) - Surely the guardian of this matter is the court. If honourable senators opposite read the provision they will find it is directed to what the person is liable to do if required by a court. The member shall not be required to produce anything in court, except when it is necessary to do so for the purposes of, or of a proceeding under or arising out of, this Act. So, apart from proceedings under this Act, documents are not to be produced. Surely the court itself will be careful of the proper considerations of confidentiality and so forth. We are not talking about throwing documents out like confetti in the streets. A provision in the Bill protects confidentiality and prevents documents being required to be produced by a member of the Commission. A member is not to produce documents even to any other court, except when a court under this particular Bill- and for the purpose of this Bill- requires a member of the Commission to produce that document. Honourable senators opposite speak as if somehow the information were going to be flooded about.

The courts are very astute to protect this kind of confidentiality in a proper case. Is the Opposition suggesting that somehow the courts are going to act wrongly and require a member of the Commission to produce documents for some extraneous purpose or use the documents wrongly? We think that the provision is reasonable enough. I bring the attention of honourable senators back to the previous matter of prosecutions. In the Bill there are proceedings in the control of the courts and the same kind of principle is being applied in this clause. The documents would not be required by any court except the courts conducting and dealing with proceedings under this Act. An exception can be made where the court, in its proceedings under this Act, requires a member of the Commission to produce documents. We think it is a reasonable and proper provision. It seems that members of the Opposition are being over-cautious and wrong in not trusting the approach that is being made here, together with the well known caution and zeal of the court to protect the confidentiality of business affairs in appropriate cases.

Senator Missen - All I am putting to the Attorney-General is that a court may not know the significance of these documents when they are produced and the significance they would have for parties to the litigation.

Senator MURPHY - It is their business to know and objections can be taken. The matter can be argued and no doubt would be. The court can examine the documents and assess the significance and also can be told the significance of them.

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