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Thursday, 15 August 1912

Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) . - In my second-reading speech, I pointed out how this provision differs from the corresponding provision in the Parliamentary Witnesses Bill. Clause 20 of that Bill reads -

Every witness appearing before either House or before a Committee to give evidence shall be entitled to be paid such witness fees and travelling expenses as the President, Speaker, or Chairman, as the case requires, thinks fit to allow in accordance with a scale prescribed by the Governor-General.

The present Bill provides that a witness before a Royal Commission shall be paid a reasonable sum for the expenses of his attendance. Apparently a man appearing before a Royal Commission can only get his expenses, but a man appearing before a Select Committee can get his witness fees and his expenses. I am not going to press the matter.

Senator Pearce - Do you not think that it is the same thing?

Senator CHATAWAY - Why deal with the matter differently, then? The Government ought to endeavour to use the same phraseology. If the two Bills do not harmonize in other respects, at any rate they might be made to harmonize in this matter. It ought to be provided that the man who is hailed from Melbourne to Thursday Island to give evidence before a Pearl Shelling Commission shall get not only his ordinary expenses, but, like a witness before a Select Committee, what are called witness fees. This is only a blunder in the drafting, I admit. I hope that the Minister will think it worth while to consider my suggestion. On the last occasion when I moved an amendment, no Minister had the civility to get up and reply to me. I hope that the Vice-President of the Executive Council will have the civility to take a note of these remarks, and have them brought before the Minister in charge of the Bill in another place.

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