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Tuesday, 6 November 1973
Page: 1561

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral and Minister for Customs and Excise) - There are some unanswered questions on the notice paper. I, too, think that in general it is regrettable that questions are outstanding for any length of time. I think the Senate ought to understand that the record of this Government is quite good in comparison with that of the previous Government. I recall questions being left for years without being answered when the previous Government was in office. In this case the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Greenwood) suggests that there are questions which should have been answered by me. Let me say, perhaps in some defence, that I think the number of questions which have not been answered by me is a very small fraction of the number of questions which have been answered by me during this year. I have answered many hundreds of questions. I think that at one stage I estimated- and I do not think anyone has contended otherwise- that over a lengthy period I had answered more questions than all the other Ministers put together. I think that at the moment some 30-odd questions are left unanswered by me.

Some of these questions come into the sphere of the committee which has been set up by the Senate. I indicated earlier this year that I would consider whether it was appropriate for answers to be given to some of these questions. So far, I have taken the view that in the circumstances it is not appropriate to answer some of them, the course having been taken that has been taken. However, I will give consideration to the question that are on the notice paper. It is certainly no desire of mine to have unanswered questions on the notice paper. I think something should be done about some of the questions. Some questions seem to merit an answer. Some have been put from time to time -

Senator Greenwood - All questions surely merit an answer.

Senator MURPHY - Some merit an answer which would, I think, show -

Senator Wright - They should be treated on their merits in the answers.

Senator MURPHY - Some have very little merit. In general, questions should be answered. Senators are entitled to information. But do not let us be carried away by any suggestion that in some way there has been a deterioration in the answering of questions. In fact there has been a vast improvement in the answering of questions when one compares the record of this Government with the records of previous governments which were aiming to give as little information as possible and succeeded in doing so. We will have a look at the whole position and, if some answers can be given promptly to the questions, that will be done.

The PRESIDENT - Before I put the question I should like to remind honourable senators that at 8.30 this evening Estimates Committee A will meet in the Senate chamber and Estimates Committee C will meet in Committee Room No. 1.I now put the question:

That the Senate do now adjourn.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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