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Thursday, 23 March 1972
Page: 856

Senator MURPHY - I refer to the trial, presently proceeding in New Guinea, of a number of New Guineans on charges of murder of an Australian white official. I ask the Attorney-General: Is this trial regarded as one in which Australia has a considerable interest to see that the administration of justice is duly carried out? Is he aware that appeals are being made by the legal advisers of the New Guineans charged for assistance to finance their defence? In these circumstances, will the Attorney-General make inquiries with a view to seeing whether financial assistance -

Senator Webster - I wonder whether this question would be longer than mine?

Senator MURPHY - . . . or legal aid should be provided for the person charged in order that there may be no suggestion that in any way the defence has been impeded by lack of proper legal aid?

The PRESIDENT - Order! I have taken some cognisance of Senator Webster's interjection. I address myself to the Leader of the Opposition: I listened to his earnest appeal earlier about the phrasing of questions. I wish he would heed his own remarks.

Senator MURPHY - You have addressed that statement to me, Mr President. May I say that I consider that I did not supply information, but that I asked the Attorney-General a question about a number of matters. I pressed him to take action. I understand that that is strictly in conformity with the rules of this chamber.

The PRESIDENT - Yes. I extend some latitude to leaders of parties. But, in general, honourable senators have adopted the habit of padding questions.

Senator GREENWOOD - I am aware that a trial is proceeding - it has been going for some time - and that there are a number of defendants. I was unaware that there was any problem about financial assistance. I am quite sure that if any application for legal aid is made that application will be considered. But this is a matter not so much for the AttorneyGeneral as for the Department of External Territories. I assure the honourable senator that I will convey his question to the Minister for his consideration.

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