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Friday, 17 December 1993
Page: 4931

The PRESIDENT —The Select Committee on Superannuation has raised with me a matter of privilege pursuant to standing order 81. This matter is also the subject of the 11th report of the committee.

  The committee, pursuant to paragraph (18) of resolution 1 of the Senate's privilege resolutions, relating to the protection of witnesses, has concluded that two witnesses who gave evidence before the committee may have been subject to penalty or injury in respect of their evidence. The adverse treatment of the witnesses which is alleged is that they were removed from membership of a credit union.

  I am required to determine whether a motion to refer the matter to the Privileges Committee should have precedence over other business, having regard to criteria laid down by the Senate. I have indicated to the Senate in past cases how I interpret these criteria. Past reports of the Privileges Committee and decisions by the Senate indicate that any suggestion that a witness has been penalised because of his or her evidence is regarded as a very serious matter. I therefore determine that a motion to refer the matter to the Privileges Committee may have precedence.

  As the Senate is not expected to have any further sitting during this period of sittings, Senator West may now move a motion to refer the matter to the Privileges Committee.