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Monday, 11 November 1985
Page: 1946

Senator GRIMES (Minister for Community Services)(10.50) —We have had a mixed bag on the adjournment debate tonight. Senator Reid raised a matter concerning the citizens of Oxley and is in grave danger of getting repetitive strain injury in her arm from working the parish pump again. She is concerned about the buses that have gone missing and the street lamps that have not appeared. I am afraid that I have no knowledge of the subject but I will refer the matter to my colleague to see just what the problem is. I certainly do not like to think of the people of Oxley being in the dark and without any means of transport.

Senator Boswell raised the latest chapter in the saga of the Camelia Restaurant in Queensland, to which I have been listening with interest, with Senator MacGibbon moving one notice of motion, followed by Senator Jones moving another, I think Senator Boswell the third and now Senator Boswell has had a go on the adjournment. The Camelia Restaurant, as I suppose most honourable senators would know, closed down allegedly because of the removal of the tax deductions for business lunches. Those of us who remember the Camelia Restaurant remember it as a quite pleasant place but one of its main features was the extraordinarily high price of the food and in particular the wine served with the food. One would suggest that if the cost of the food and in particular of the wine had been reduced the restaurant would not have had to close and I suggest that it would have made a handsome profit equal to that it made before. I think it is significant that it is the first and only restaurant that we know of in Queensland or in the whole of Australia that has had to close for this reason.

Senator Peter Rae raised the matter of identification cards. He has done so before and I daresay he will do so again. The Government is at the moment looking at the introduction of ID cards and their efficiency and effectiveness. I will refer his remarks to Dr Blewett, who is the Minister concerned with the subject. Senator Rae also mentioned the problems of Iran, Korea, South Africa and many other countries and, I believe, incorporated a list of countries where political persecution occurred, I think from the point of view of reprimanding Senator Tate, who I believe suggested that we should look at the small amount of military aid we give to the Philippines because of the undoubted abuse of that aid. I did not hear Senator Tate speak but I am sure that he spoke with his usual learned clarity and restraint. I cannot imagine that he said anything that would have provoked Senator Rae so I suppose that what Senator Rae--

Senator Peter Rae —Nor was it intended to, let me interpose for the record.

Senator GRIMES —Good. I just point out to Senator Rae, as he made a reference to apartheid, that the difference between South Africa and all these other countries is that South Africa has written very firmly into its constitution the persecution of black people in that country. That takes place in a country which claims to be civilised and I think that is the basis of the abhorrence of most people to the apartheid regime. Mr President, I believe that, to use the vernacular, Senator Georges is in the jug again, but you probably know more about that than I do; so I will let everybody rest tonight and leave that matter to you. I hope that we can all get home and have an early sleep.

The PRESIDENT —In response to the matter that has been raised by Senator Tate, firstly let me say how delighted I was to hear Senator Tate make reference to the presence in the presidential gallery of our erstwhile colleague and my close friend, former Senator Jim Cavanagh and his wife. Senator Cavanagh served in the Senate with me from the day I started in the Senate in 1962 until he left, with a number of our other colleagues, in 1981. I must say that it is a pleasure not only for me but for all honourable senators to see former Senator Cavanagh and Mrs Cavanagh back with us this evening.

In response to the matter about which Senator Tate principally spoke on the adjournment, I must say that Senator Childs came to see me this afternoon in my office and raised with me the question of the arrest of Senator Georges in Queensland. Senator Reynolds also saw me shortly after Senator Childs had been to see me. When Senator Childs came to see me I had with me the Clerk of the Senate who informed me and Senator Childs that he, the Clerk, and another of the Senate's senior officers had had discussions with the solicitor representing Senator Georges this afternoon. Senator Childs's attention was drawn to a Privileges Committee report of 1979 concerning the arrest of a senator, the contents of which report were adopted by the Senate at that time. In short, the report said that where a senator had been arrested or proceeded against by police officers acting as officers of the Crown, the matter was to be regarded as one of a criminal nature and, therefore, in that event was not the subject of privilege of the Senate.

I understand that Senator Georges was, in fact, charged with an offence under a Queensland Act which provides for a penalty of a fine or imprisonment for six months. The previous report, the one to which I have referred, confirmed that it must be regarded that the privilege of freedom from arrest is not available in such matters.

I understand that subsequent to the discussion that the Clerk and I had with Senator Childs the Clerk also had a discussion with the solicitor representing Senator Georges. I am told that Senator Georges has been charged. He expects to appear before a magistrate at 10 a.m. tomorrow. I expect the court to advise me, as President of the Senate, that Senator Georges has been before that court. I expect that that advice will come either from the court or from the Queensland Attorney-General. I am also told that it is expected that upon Senator Georges's appearance before that court a date will be set down for the hearing in due course. That is all I can say at this stage. Senator Georges has not been before a court. It is expected that he will be before a court tomorrow. I expect that either the court or the Queensland Attorney-General, acting in accordance with practice, will advise me that a senator has been detained in that State.

Senator Tate —Do you know the charge?

The PRESIDENT —I am now told that it is a charge under section 4A of the Vagrants, Gaming and Other Offences Act.