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Wednesday, 22 March 1972
Page: 802

Senator RAE (South Australia) - I wish to speak briefly to this particular aspect of the Standing Orders Committee report. Following the growth of the Senate committee system consideration of this matter is most important. Many of the matters referred to standing committees, particularly, and to a lesser extent some of those referred to select committees require, because of the public interest in them which caused the Senate to refer them to committees, that the reports of the committees be made available for public information at the earliest possible date. There are 2 periods of the year during which a committee may miss out by only a few days in presenting its report to the Senate and may have to wait several months before (he report can be presented. That is not in the best interests of the Senate, of the Senate committee system or of the general public. One must bear in mind that a committee may be able to finalise its report during a parliamentary session but then have to wait a period of time for it to be printed and thus find that it cannot be tabled for several months because the Parliament has gone into recess.

If there is a doubt about whether privilege attaches to a report, it seems to me that this is a matter which could be overcome either by legislation or by clarification of certain aspects of the Standing Orders. Whichever may be the feasible course, I urge that the Standing Orders Committee give full consideration at the earliest possible time to recommending the appropriate steps so that such reports may be presented during the period that the Senate is in recess. In this way the committee system can be given the utmost opportunity to be fully effective in the interests not only of the Senate but also of the Australian public.

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