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Tuesday, 12 November 1974
Page: 2267

Senator DEVITT (Tasmania) -At one point during Senator Baume 's comments I thought he was on the point of acknowledging the situation which obtained in Estimates Committee E but he may have been sidetracked or his mind may have tended to course in some other direction and he did not go on to make that acknowledgment. So I think it is incumbent upon me to set the record straight in that respect. During the examination of the estimates coming under the responsibility of Committee E, every opportunity was given throughout the whole of the proceedings of that Committee for any member of that Committee to ask questions. Of course the courtesy was extended to other honourable senators who came in to join the deliberations of the Committee and to ask questions. In fact, at one stage- this is interesting to record in the light of the words which have just been uttered members of Committee E objected because they said I gave Senator Baume too good a go and that he was hogging the show. Senator Townley, one of his colleagues, objected and said: 'When are you going to give us a go?' At that point I had to alter the procedure that had been followed up to that stage to enable every member of the Committee to -

Senator Sheil - Mr Chairman,I raise a point of order. I suppose I am as anxious as anybody else to move on to Estimates Committee E. I submit that Committee E has not been criticised and therefore there is no relevance to the present discussion on the report on Committee B.

Senator Devitt - On the point of order, Mr Chairman, Senator Baume made the general observation that he was not given an opportunity. I just want to clear the record and say that he was. There may not have been any discussion in relation to the affairs of Committee E because it was well conducted and carried out its work very well, very efficiently and very successfully. So I have to take the opportunity at this point to correct the impression which has been given that Senate Baume was not given a go. That is my observation on the point or order.

Senator Laucke - As a member of Committee C I must say this. The tenor of the Estimates Committee's inquiries was well expressed in that paragraph of the report of that Committee when it was said that the Committee wished to express its thanks to the Minister for the Media and to the departmental officers for the full and frank response which the Committee received to its questioning, to which I could add that the actions of the Chairman of that Committee in respect of the conduct of that inquiry were, in my opinion, faultless. He was certainly to a degree peremptory in getting through some of the questioning but in my opinion there was no evidence of an unfairness in ability to tender questions to the Chairman. I must say this because it would be churlish of me not to do so. Senator McAuliffe handled that Committee in a way which led to an expression of thanks to the Minister for the Media with which I would include the Chairman of that Committee so far as the activities of the Committee were concerned. It is so that in the Committee's deliberations there was a firm movement of questions around the table by members of the Committee, both clockwise and anti-clockwise and thereafter invitations to ask any further questions by members of the Committee and then questions from those honourable senators who attended the hearing. That is my assessment of the Committee hearings. I think it is my duty to say so here tonight because of the suggestion that there was not an opportunity to ask questions in that Committee.

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Webster - Order! I have been rather lax with the Committee in allowing honourable senators to speak on a variety of matters. The previous 2 speakers have devoted their comments to matters other than Division 250 which relates to the Department of Foreign Affairs. I would ask that honourable senators assist the Committee to get this vote through by confining their remarks to Divisions 250 to 258.

Senator DEVITT - Mr Chairman,will you allow me now to complete my comments because the point of order which was raised interrupted me?

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