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Thursday, 1 May 1980
Page: 2092

Senator GRIMES (Tasmania) - by leave- Mr President, I am a bit limited in what 1 can say as I have only just received a copy of your statement. As I am not a lawyer I am not certain of the sub judice situation regarding the writs of Mr Harris. As I understand it they are issued but not served, or served but not issued. Perhaps the lawyers in this place can comment.

Senator Wheeldon - It is difficult to serve a writ if it has not been issued.

Senator GRIMES - I suppose that is right senator, but you are the knowledgeable one in this matter, not 1. 1 am a little disturbed that the further matters that have been raised by other honourable senators and me in this place concerning the effective functioning of the Parliamentary Library and the independence of the Library, which we all consider to be terribly important, are still under investigation. One wonders how long that investigation will take. I can only hope that we will be able to discuss the problems which arise from the resignation of Mr Harris and the difficulties faced by Mr Dunn. That is obviously up to the Senate and to you, Mr President. The proper functioning of the Library and the proper servicing of members of this Parliament by the Library, by skilled and independent staff is important.

We know already that Mr Harris's position has been advertised on a short tenure. I and others believe that this situation will raise problems for any person who takes up that job because his future may depend on the sort of reports he produces and his future may be in some difficulty if he produces reports that are critical of a government. I also hope that out of this matter honourable senators and members of the House of Representatives will play a more active part, either directly or through the Library Committee. It seems to me that the situation has now been reached where the Library Committee is just an advisory committee. The Presiding Officers, as efficient and as concerned as they may be, have all the decision-making powers but must delegate so much of those decision-making powers to the Librarian. This has been found to be not very satisfactory. I hope that we get an answer to those problems in the near future.

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