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Thursday, 29 March 1984
Page: 855

Senator TATE(11.20) —With the indulgence of Senator Hill I have asked whether I might speak for two minutes, having just heard in my room the proposal of the Opposition that the Judiciary Amendment Bill (No. 2) 1984 should be referred to the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs for inquiry and report. The fact is that I, as Chairman, have not been approached in relation to this matter, and the Committee has not had an opportunity to discuss whether it could take this particular reference and deal with it within a reasonable period in any way which would be helpful to the Senate. The Committee has before it at the moment a reference on the National Service Amendment Bill 1983 and that has been put on the back-burner whilst we consider the national crime authority reference, a matter of great concern to this chamber. We have a reference on State parliamentary privilege and the relationship to possible over-borning of that privilege by Federal law. Of course we have the oversight of Law Reform Commission reports and have already had to inform the Law Reform Commission Chairman, Mr Justice Michael Kirby, that , given the pressure of business, we have been unable to deal with the privacy report in the way in which we had intended.

What I am saying is that we have a very full slate indeed. In addition, three members of the Standing Committee-namely, myself, Senator Bolkus and Senator Lewis-have now been asked by the Senate to go on the Senate Select Committee on the Conduct of a Judge. I am trying to tell the Senate that I have been taken by surprise. I am sure the Committee would find itself quite overwhelmed by a further reference to it at this moment. It could not discharge this intended reference in any reasonable frame of time.

Senator Durack —There is no urgency about the matter.

Senator Robertson —It is just a matter of courtesy in letting us know.

Senator TATE —Well, if it is merely a delaying tactic--

Senator Durack —No, it is not urgent.

Senator TATE —Anyway, I thought I ought to rise and allow the Senate therefore to have fuller information as to the quite impossible task which is being thrust on the Committee without consultation and, as Senator Robertson has said, without the courtesy of letting us know that this was intended.