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Wednesday, 12 December 1973
Page: 2742

The PRESIDENT - Honourable senators, I have sought the courtesy of Senator Webster and Senator Douglas McClelland, the Minister in charge of the Senate at the moment, to provide me with an opportunity to deal with a matter that was raised last night by Senator Webster. Honourable senators who were present at the adjournment will recall the matter. Secondly, Senator McLaren has been to see me and we have discussed this matter and he is well aware of what I am now about to read out. I think it is quite clear- I am quite clear about it- that the matter arose from a series of errors which will become clear as I read out this statement.

Last evening Senator Webster spoke briefly on the adjournment and asked me to authorise the Principal Parliamentary Reporter, by the appropriate use of an asterisk, to refer the reader back to pages of Hansard where debates occurred on the matter that he was then raising. The circumstances surrounding his request are these: On page 1168 of the daily Hansard Senator McLaren is reported as saying: 'I know Mr Albert Albany', and Senator Webster read these words reproduced in a letter from Mr Albany. Senator McLaren then directed attention to the corrected passage appearing in the weekly Hansard and reading: 'I know of Mr Albany'. Senator Webster then apologised to Senator McLaren, if he had misquoted him. The- Principal Parliamentary Reporter assures me that the words appearing in the daily Hansard: 'I know Mr Albert Albany' were the accurate record of

Senator McLaren'sstatement and that the correction, being an alteration of substance, should not have been accepted by the Hansard office.

I interpolate here that Senator McLaren of course has not been in the Senate as long as many of us have and perhaps does not know the intricacies of these matters as clearly as do some of us who have been here for a longer period. If he had wanted to correct his statement, the forms of the Senate were open for him to do so.

The problem now, as I have it, is to put the record straight. The asterisk is used in Hansard as a convenient way of drawing a reader's attention to a page containing the original matter on which an important personal explanation is founded; a subsequent incorporation of unread matter; or circumstances of the kind to which Senator Webster has drawn attention. The asterisk was last used, honourable senators will recall, as recently as 4 April 1973, at page 852, to direct attention to the incorporation of matter 79 pages after the passage of which it formed part. Honourable senators will recall that Senator Brown appealed to me at that time and that I directed that this was to be done. I feel that the employment of this device is justified on this occasion.

Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.

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