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Tuesday, 2 October 1984
Page: 1321


Mr YOUNG (Leader of the House)(2.04) —by leave-I move:

That this House grants leave for the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the activities of the Nugan Hand Group to be provided with a copy of the telex tabled in the House on 12 September 1984 by the honourable member for Boothby.

Because there has been some confusion over the years, I think it would be opportune for me to draw attention to the facts concerning the provision of property of this Parliament to the courts or to royal commissions. I shall refer very quickly to instances when previous governments and, indeed, this Government have dealt with requests similar to the one under discussion today.

I refer, of course, to 25 March 1982 when the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Hayden, sought the tabling of documents relating to the Nugan Hand organisation and associated matters. The then Leader of the House, Mr Sinclair, on behalf of the Government, moved:

That this House grants leave for the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drug Trafficking to be provided with copies of, and to adduce, any documents presented in the House concerning matters that may be relevant to the Inquiry.

I think we have a similar case today. I am citing these previous examples because I think anyone wanting a quick reference in the future will be able to see them all in the one day's proceedings. On another occasion, 4 June 1976, in relation to documents relevant to court proceedings, the then Leader of the House, again Mr Sinclair, moved:

That, in response to the petition of Danny Sankey presented to the House on 25 February 1976, this House grants leave-

1. to the Petitioner and his legal representatives to inspect the documents tabled in this House during the course of its proceedings which took place between 2.55 p.m. and 10.09 p.m. on 9 July 1975.

2. to the Petitioner and his legal representatives to issue and serve a subpoena for the production of the said documents in the proceedings commenced by the Petitioner in the Queanbeyan Court on or about 20 November 1975, and

3. to an appropriate officer of the House to attend at the hearings of the said proceedings and to produce the said documents.

This, of course, is in accordance with what we are doing today. The Hansard was required for court proceedings. On 30 August 1979 leave of the House was sought for the production of documents and attendance of officers at court proceedings. Mr Sinclair, as Leader of the House, sought leave of the House to move a motion granting leave for the production and adduction as evidence of certain documents and the attendance of an appropriate officer of the House for court proceedings. There was some debate about this matter because the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Lionel Bowen) was opposed to this course of action. Eventually there was agreement as to what material would be sent to the court and about the officer appearing before it. On 30 August 1979 Mr Sinclair raised a matter of privilege in accordance with Standing order 95. Following discussion in the House, he moved:

That the petition of John Fairfax and Sons Limited presented to the House on 28 August 1979 be referred to the Committee of Privileges for consideration and advice as to whether the petition in whole or in part or any matter raised by it can be acceded to without derogation of the privileges of the Parliament or the Members of the Parliament and if so, the form in which it might be so acceded to .

In some cases these matters have gone via the Privileges Committee. On 18 March 1982 the then Leader of the House, Mr Sinclair, in regard to access to House records, moved:

That this House grants leave for the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Drug Trafficking to adduce the official records of the proceedings in the House in which references were made to matters relevant to the inquiry, namely, parliamentary debates, House of Representatives for-

(a) 11 March 1982, pages 890 to 891, 893 to 894, 921 to 927 inclusive;

(b) 16 March 1982, pages 959, 960, 967 to 976 inclusive and pages 976 to 988 inclusive; and

(c) 18 March 1982.

This series of examples is evidence of the fact that what we are doing today is not peculiar to the way in which the Parliament has acted previously. Finally, on 6 May 1982, in regard to records of the Parliament, Mr Sinclair moved:

That, in response to the petition of MacPhillamy Cummins and Gibson presented to the House on 5 May 1982, this House grants leave-

(1) to the Petitioner and to Mr Christopher John Hurford to issue and serve subpoenae for the production of the relevant official records of the proceedings of the House as described in the Second Schedule of the petition, and of relevant documents tabled in the House as described in the Third Schedule of the petition;

(2) to the Petitioner and to Mr Christopher John Hurford to adduce the said official records of the proceedings as evidence of what was in fact said, and of the presentation of the said documents, in the House;

(3) to the Petitioner and to Mr Christopher John Hurford to interview and obtain proofs of the evidence from the relevant officers of the Parliamentary Reporting Staff, and

(4) to an appropriate officer or officers of the House to attend in Court and to produce the said official records of proceedings and to give evidence in relation to the recording of proceedings of the tabling of documents provided that such officer or officers shall not be required to attend at any time which would prevent the performance of their duties in the Parliament.

In directing the attention of the House to those previous decisions by the House I suggest that what we have done today draws this matter into line with those previous decisions.