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Monday, 24 June 1996
Page: 2030

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Pursuant to standing order 81 Senator Murphy, by letters dated 17 and 24 June 1996, raised with the President a matter of privilege and asked that he make a determination on the matter under that standing order. Senator Murphy, as former chair of the Select Committee on Unresolved Whistleblower Cases, has received submissions which allege that deliberately misleading evidence was given to that committee. The submissions state that the existence of certain documents was deliberately concealed from the committee when evidence was given relating to the existence of the documents.    Normally, the committee concerned would investigate any such suggestion, but in this case the committee ceased to exist after the presentation of its final report. As past cases and reports of the Privileges Committee indicate, the Senate has always taken very seriously any allegation that deliberately misleading evidence has been given in the course of a Senate inquiry.

The matter raised by Senator Murphy clearly meets the criteria which the President is required to consider in determining whether a motion to refer the matter to the Privileges Committee should have precedence. The President and his predecessors have explained to the Senate in past cases the way in which they apply the criteria. The President has therefore determined that a motion to refer the matter to the Privileges Committee may have precedence. I table the correspondence from Senator Murphy, who may now give notice of a motion.