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Tuesday, 4 December 1973
Page: 2370

Senator O'BYRNE (TASMANIA) -My question is directed to the Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange. On 16 October and again on 18 October I asked Senator Rae, as Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Securities and Exchange, when the report of that Committee would be tabled. In his answer to me he said that the Committee had been unable to proceed with its sittings from the prorogation of the Parliament in November 1972 until the Committee was reconstituted in April. I ask: Did not the constitution of the Select Committee make provision for it to continue sitting during time of prorogation of the Parliament until the reconstitution of the Committee? Will the report be presented before the Senate rises this year? What delays are now occurring? Will the report ever be presented?

The PRESIDENT - Order! Senator Rae, you will recall the terms and conditions which I laid down previously, namely, that you may reply if you speak on behalf of the Committee.

Senator Greenwood - I rise to a point of order. Mr President, I have an interest in this matter as you would be aware. I sought to get information from a chairman of a select committee by asking a question without notice. I think the chairman was willing to respond to me but he did not do so because there had not been a meeting of the committee, as you said there should have been before he could reply. I submit that consistency requiries that either I be allowed to ask my question again on the terms under which you are now permitting Senator Rae to answer this question or that Senator Rae be bound by the terms of your earlier ruling.

The PRESIDENT - I have a clear recollection of how this whole situation arose. It arose as a result of questions being addressed to previous chairmen of committees and the members of the committees complaining that the answers given were not in accordance with what the committees felt to be the correct position. It is perfectly permissible for a senator to address a question to another senator who is a chairman of a committee and therefore is in charge of part of the Senate's business. At that time I ruled that the chairman could respond only on the basis that he was responding on behalf of his committee and as a result of a discussion with his committee. Referring now to Senator Greenwood's observations, I am perfectly aware that I made that ruling in that context. I have no objection to his addressing the question again to the Chairman of the Committee concerned to see whether he has held a meeting of his Committee.

Senator RAE - Thank you, Mr President. I will continue to give the answer I had proposed to give before the intervention. I would like to make that clear. The answer I would give is that I shall refer the question to the Committee at its previously scheduled meeting which is to be held tomorrow. An answer will be considered by the Committee at that time. Mr President, I also would like to refer to you, for your authority to publish, certain correspondence which took place in relation to one part of the answer sought by Senator O 'Byrne.

The PRESIDENT - I will discuss that later.

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