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Thursday, 11 May 1989
Page: 2304

Senator GILES —Mr Deputy President, I seek leave to make a statement on a matter referred to the Privileges Committee by the Senate on 8 December 1988 and relating to the drugs in sport inquiry.

Leave granted.

Senator GILES —On 8 December, following the determination of the President that a matter of privilege raised on behalf of the Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and the Arts by the Chairman, Senator Black, should have precedence and the Senate's decision to refer the matter immediately to the Privileges Committee, the Committee received the following reference:

whether there was any improper interference with a witness who gave evidence to the Senate Standing Committee on Environment, Recreation and the Arts in relation to that Committee's inquiry into the use of drugs in sport.

Because of the importance of the issues raised for the operations of all Senate Committees, the Privileges Committee will be presenting a full report in relation to its reference as soon as possible after the Senate resumes this month. In fairness to the persons affected by the reference, however, the Committee considered it appropriate to advise the Senate of its findings as soon as possible.

Briefly, after considering both written and oral evidence, the Committee has found that Mr Greg Blood's action in asking Ms Sue Howland to leave his house on the day after she gave evidence to the Committee was not taken in consequence of her appearance before the Standing Committee. The Committee has also found that Mr Blood did not try to prevent Ms Howland's giving evidence, or producing a document, before the Standing Committee. Thus, the Committee has concluded that no contempt of the Senate has been committed by Mr Blood, in that he did not improperly interfere with, or inflict a penalty or injury upon, Ms Howland on account of evidence she gave before the Standing Committee in relation to its inquiry into the use of drugs in sport.

As indicated earlier, the Committee will give its reasons for its findings in a report canvassing issues of significance to the Senate and its committees. The Committee will also table the Hansard report of its first public hearings held pursuant to the Privilege resolutions of 25 February 1988. The Committee also wishes to emphasise at this early stage that it regards Ms Howland's notification to the Standing Committee of the events which transpired after her giving evidence to the Standing Committee, and that Committee's report to the Senate as entirely appropriate, and indeed necessary, for the proper functioning of Senate committees. The Committee considers that the resolution of the matters before it was due in no small measure to the helpfulness and cooperation both of Ms Howland and of Mr Blood, who was accompanied by his legal adviser at the hearings held last night.