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Thursday, 25 November 1993
Page: 3615

Senator BOURNE (10.22 a.m.) —We believe that we should suspend standing orders so that we can discuss Senator Patterson's motion. We would like to discuss it for a very short time, once standing orders have been suspended. I think it does need to come to a vote. Firstly, we support these fellowships. We believe these fellowships are very important. This is a very good thing that the government has done and the fellowships should continue. We also understand and agree with the privacy considerations that the minister has expressed. They are very legitimate concerns.

  However, we also believe that we ought to have the right to have a look at these documents—not publish them or disclose them—to see whether there is a problem. We can get the information through freedom of information and, even if we cannot, it is the Senate's right to have it and nobody is disagreeing with that. We believe that the privacy considerations are so important that they should not be disclosed, but that they should be made available to honourable senators, and that is what Senator Patterson has asked for. The suggestion that all personal details be deleted from the applications being made available is a good one, and we agree with that. That should certainly happen.

  Secondly, Senator McMullan says that the minutes of that meeting do not exist. If they do not exist, fine, we cannot have them. There is no question about that. Thirdly, there have been some documents tabled and that is excellent. We have seen those and they are very interesting. Fourthly, in relation to the addresses, we agree that they should not be disclosed, but that they should be made available in case there is a problem. Senator Patterson believes there may be a problem. If there is not a problem, she is not going to publish those addresses.

  If any honourable senator goes around to the homes of these people to harass them about this, he or she should be severely dealt with by the Senate and by the parliament, but honourable senators are not going to do that. There should be no reason why these addresses cannot be made available but not disclosed. They should not be published. There is no reason to do that and they will not be. We believe that this should be dealt with now and that it should be dealt with extremely expeditiously.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.