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Tuesday, 4 March 1980
Page: 534

The PRESIDENT - You cannot say that, Senator O'Byrne, as well you know.

Senator O'Byrne - He goes through all the actions. I withdraw.

Senator Rae - A very unqualified withdrawal, Mr President. May I say that Senator O'Byrne would do well to remember who it was who issued a stop writ along with four other Labor members from Tasmania when they were in a little bit of trouble about a double position, but had not bothered to proceed with the action that they started five or six years ago. Let us remember some stop writs and who it was who talked about them. In this chamber one of our honourable senators is entitled to reasonable protection from the misuse of parliamentary privilege. I would suggest that this has gone too far at this stage. Already we have had quotation after quotation put into the Hansard for what is clearly one purpose only, and that is further to give privilege and opportunity to the publication of the matter which is already the subject of a defamation action.

Senator CAVANAGH - On the point of order, I agree with everything that Senator Rae has said. 1 think the honourable senator is entitled to the protection of the privilege of the Parliament. I am trying to make a case for some immediate action to try to clear his name of the accusation that has been made.

Senator Missen - Don 't be a humbug.

Senator CAVANAGH - I do not link my argument with something that happened six years ago in Tasmania. I do not know what that has to do with clearing a senator's name on this occasion. The matter has been mentioned in a book, and I believe that the book should be examined, along with the report of the New South Wales Attorney-General. If a senator has been defamed, perhaps in all sincerity, by someone reading from a well-circulated newspaper article, it is a matter for the Privileges Committee to consider. I ask you to consider this matter, Mr President, to see whether it is one that should go to the Privileges Committee in order to give Senator Lajovic an opportunity to clear himself of the accusations that have been made or whether the Committee would be working against action Senator Lajovic may have taken in the New South Wales Supreme Court. Whilst I believe that the Privileges Committee of the Senate should be a higher authority than the New South Wales Supreme Court, I believe that some of the facts should be considered. I am suggesting that you look at the matter, Mr President, for the purpose of ascertaining whether such an accusation should go to the Privileges Committee. Senator Lajovic has said that he resents the fact that he has been accused of this. It is wrong, and we should give him every opportunity to clear his name of the accusation.

The PRESIDENT - Order! I point out to the honourable senator that it is not for me to rule on matters of privilege. That is for the Senate to determine.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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