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Thursday, 24 October 1974
Page: 1936

Senator YOUNG (South Australia) -Mr President,I seek leave to make a statement on what Senator Cavanagh and Senator James McClelland have said.

The PRESIDENT -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Senator YOUNG - I support what Senator Cavanagh has said. I appreciate that Senator James McClelland has stated that the witnesses were aware that this evidence would be made public. In that case I question why the Committee should hear the evidence in camera. I express the view that when witnesses appear before a committee on the understanding that they are giving evidence in camera the transcript of that evidence should be purely a committee document and not a public document. On the other hand, if witnesses are informed that their evidence can be made public, I question why a committee should then bother to take that evidence in camera?

Senator JAMESMcCLELLAND (New South Wales)- Mr President, I seek leave to make a further statement on this matter.

The PRESIDENT -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I thought I made it clear in my opening remarks that although the evidence was taken in camera it was made clear to the witnesses, and we had their concurrence, that the evidence would be published. It has been made clear already by one or two honourable senators who spoke when our report was tabled a week ago that there is great anxiety that none of the information that was available to the Committee should be concealed from any honourable senator who wishes to take part in the debate or, indeed, from any members of the public or organisations which are concerned in this matter. This is most important. The Committee has gone to great pains to make sure that before we go into the Committee stage of the debate all honourable senators will have at their disposal everything that the Committee had at its disposal. The reason why the evidence was heard in camera was that the nature of the proceedings was highly informal; we wished the witnesses to be free to discuss the matter with us in a farranging way and in a manner about which they may have felt a little inhibited if members of the Press had been present. But it was made quite clear from the outset that this was not going to be a secret document and that it would be published to the world. There is no breach of faith on the part of anybody.

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