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Tuesday, 30 May 1989
Page: 2995


Senator TATE (Minister for Justice)(3.40) —I would not normally rise on the presentation of a paper such as this. However, as I came into the chamber-this was confirmed in a private conversation with Senator Tambling-he effectively accused the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Hand) of editing the Aboriginal Development Commission report in so far as certain omissions of material which Senator Tambling thought ought to be in the report were found by him in a reading of it. The Minister absolutely refutes any suggestion that he has had any influence on the compiling of this report. Specifically, he has had nothing to do with omitting any material that might otherwise appear. He has not had any part to play in any supposed editing of the report. I would imagine-I have not had a chance to check this-that that would be illegal. It is a charge possibly of illegality but certainly of improper interference by the Minister in the preparation of this report. I would ask Senator Tambling to reconsider that accusation. Although I realise I am later than a contemporaneous challenge to him, I ask him to withdraw those charges.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Burns) —I call Senator Short.


Senator Puplick —Can't you find it in your heart to thank Mrs McPherson on behalf of the Government?


Senator Tate —Mr Acting Deputy President, I have made a particular request of Senator Tambling. I ask that that be dealt with first. I do not need to be instructed by Senator Puplick on the courtesies.


Senator Puplick —I am just curious that you are not prepared to do so.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! I call Senator Short.


Senator Tate —Mr Acting Deputy President, I have asked for a withdrawal from Senator Tambling.


Senator Peter Baume —I rise on a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President. Senator Tate at no stage has made clear to you that he is seeking to invoke a standing order of the Senate. If that is what he is seeking he should rephrase his request so that you know he is trying to take advantage of a particular standing order. He has not made that clear yet and there is no way you could have ruled otherwise than the way you have.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I thank Senator Baume for his assistance. I was about to ask Senator Tate whether he was asking for that.


Senator Tate —I made the point that I did not come in contemporaneously with the assertions made by Senator Tambling. I have since privately confirmed his assertion. Even though it is a little later than the normal time for taking a point of order, I would now do so and ask Senator Tambling to withdraw his assertions concerning the Minister.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Tambling?


Senator Tambling —No.


Senator Puplick —I rise on a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President. Are you ruling on the Minister's request that Senator Tambling has to make a withdrawal?


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —At this stage I am suggesting to Senator Tambling that he may want to do something of his own volition. He says he does not want to. Does the Minister want me to make a ruling?


Senator Tate —Yes.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —The point of order should have been taken at the time the comment was made. There is no point of order.