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Tuesday, 17 September 1985
Page: 628

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —I seek leave to make a personal explanation.

Leave granted.

Senator MICHAEL BAUME —I have been adversely affected by the actions of Hansard in its report of 16 September on page 543, which attributes words to the Minister for Finance (Senator Walsh) which were not, in fact, said by him and which are not necessarily implied by what he actually did say. I have the agreement of Mr Shearwood of Hansard that words were added that were not spoken and I have heard the tape. The consequence of Hansard altering what Senator Walsh did say to make it grammatically acceptable has, therefore, changed the meaning of what he said to the extent that it removes the possibility of another meaning that was, in my view, deliberately left open by the Minister's words. No matter what Hansard's obligations to provide a record that is consistent with acceptable English usage, the prime responsibility surely must be to ensure that meanings are not changed by any improvement so undertaken. A reading of the offending section of the Hansard as it was actually said by Senator Walsh, and excluding your intervention, Mr President, reveals that his words have the very clear effect of claiming that I was insolvent. The words are as follows:

Interest rates of that magnitude could even cause stockbroking firms to become insolvent, as one did in Sydney a few years ago.

Senator Ryan interjected:

Which one was that?

Senator Walsh replied:

Patrick Partners. Indeed, we have a Patrick Partner with us-a former Patrick Partner has joined us in the Senate.

There was a pause for your intervention, Mr President. The next words were:

insolvent, leaving many depositors and clients screaming for their money.

The last mention of a name to which the word `insolvent` could relate was my own as a former Patrick Partner. In fact, I did not go insolvent. An official New South Wales inquiry into the failure of that partnership even exonerated me and specifically exempted me from the criticism that it did make of the remaining partners because, among other reasons, I had physically removed myself from the partnership activities after a dispute five months before the events took place that triggered the firm's collapse. That was why I took a point of order that Senator Walsh's statement, as actually made in the chamber, was false and offensive to me. My objection is, of course, rendered incorrect and misleading of the Senate if the change Hansard has made, for cosmetic reasons, to the record is allowed to stand. By interpolating the two words `it went' Hansard has ensured that the only possible construction from Senator Walsh's remarks is that they did not refer to me but to the partnership from which I had physically removed myself five months previously, whether or not I was still held legally to be a partner.

I find it unfortunate that I am put in a position of appearing to mislead the Senate solely because a statement is altered by Hansard, despite my objections, to exclude a meaning that it was capable of having in its original form. Mr President, in these circumstances, I ask that you request Hansard to reconsider its decision to alter the actual events of the Senate chamber-which was done simply to put the words into a stylistic pattern-in a way which had a capacity to distort the meaning of words used to my considerable disadvantage.