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Thursday, 27 May 1993
Page: 1587


Senator TATE (11.24 p.m.) —I am extremely disappointed that the Democrats have set out to deliberately mislead the people of Australia regarding the status of this document. I am equally shocked that the Clerks have apparently given advice that the description `parliamentary inquiry' can be given to a document which is not an inquiry conducted by way of the usually Senate committee processes with which we are all familiar and with which the Democrats are very familiar.

  I believe this gives undue weight to the report. I find it quite incredible that the words `parliamentary inquiry' can be attached to what is—


Senator Kemp —`Independent', too.


Senator TATE —It may have some independent elements, I do not know. But it is not a parliamentary inquiry. I would ask Senator Spindler to save us a lot of embarrassment by agreeing to retitle the document. I am going to find it very hard to support the tabling of this document.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I do not like to make statements from the chair but I think I must on this occasion because the Clerk has indicated to me that the advice was not quite as understood by Senator Tate. I believe the Clerk has asked whether Senator Spindler's advice could be incorporated in Hansard. Are you willing to do this, Senator Spindler?


Senator Spindler —I am willing to seek leave to incorporate the advice I have received.

  Leave granted.

  The document read as follows

Office of the Clerk of the Senate

Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2600

26 May 1993

Senator S Spindler

The Senate

Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Senator Spindler

INQUIRY INTO TARIFFS

You have asked for advice on the point which was made in debate in the Senate on 25 May 1993 that your report and inquiry into tariffs should not have been described by the adjective "parliamentary".

The term "parliamentary" has no official or established meaning and its use is not covered by any rule of the Senate. It is used to refer to anything associated with Parliament.

I note your statements that you took steps to ensure that the public was aware that the inquiry was not established by the Senate and that its activities were not covered by parliamentary privilege. Given that you took those steps, I do not think that you could reasonably be accused of misrepresenting proceedings in the Senate within the terms of Privilege Resolution No. 6, paragraph (7).

The question of whether you should describe your inquiry as "parliamentary", therefore, is a matter of political debate and not one on which any procedural or legal opinion can be given.

Yours sincerely

(signed)( Harry Evans)


Senator TATE —I am not referring to any advice in the primary sense that the Clerk may have given; I am referring to the fact that Senator Spindler told the Senate a matter of moments ago that the Clerk had said that the title was in order and quite correct.


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —I understand from the Clerk that that was not quite the advice that was given. That is why I asked Senator Spindler if he would mind incorporating the advice.