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Tuesday, 12 November 1974
Page: 2258

Senator BAUME (New South Wales) -Following on what Senator Georges said, I would like to remind the Senate that there are many dangers to the efficient functioning of estimates committees. I was a member of one of the estimates committees. We were allowed to ask questions and no impediment was placed in the way of our getting the eye of the chairman. Our work was completed without our sitting for too long. I took the opportunity, as did many other honourable senators, to sit in at a lot of the other committees. I must say, for example, that at the hearings of Estimates Committee A I was received most courteously and allowed to take part in the deliberations, as is my right as a member of the Senate. But that was not the situation with all the committees. There was at least one estimates committee at which I sat in where there was a very conscious effort on the part of the chairman to get the estimates finished and, if he could, to curtail questioning and to curtail attempts to ask questions. It was very hard to get the call from that chairman. I want to put to the Senate the danger -

Senator McLaren - Which committee?

Senator BAUME - The chairman is here and he knows. The fact of the matter is that this did not happen only to me, a visiting senator. It was very difficult to get the time to look at an item before it had been passed over. I would just like to say that the dangers -

Senator McAuliffe - Mr Chairman,I rise to take a point of order. Senator Baume has said by innuendo that the chairmen of some committees refused to give a chance to a senator who was not a member of the committee to ask a question. With a blanket accusation like that all chairmen of committees are suspect. I am the chairman of Estimates Committee C and I would like to know whether the honourable senator is referring to me. If he is not, I would like him to mention that he is not referring to me. With a blanket accusation like that I must accept the charge.

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