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Wednesday, 4 December 1974
Page: 3161

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - I rise to detain the Senate for only a short time. The matter that I desire to raise is unanswered questions on notice. I do so knowing that little time remains before this sitting of the Senate will conclude. Therefore, little opportunity exists to raise a point which, although I have had some questions unanswered for a very long time, I have hitherto refrained from raising in the Senate. I have been waiting for more than 12 months for answers to 4 questions and for many months for answers to other questions. I invite the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy), to whom I gave some notice a short time ago that I would be raising this matter, to indicate to me why the questions have not been answered and when I may expect an answer.

I think it does not need elaboration as to the rights of senators to have their questions answered and how dependent members of Parliament are for the effective working of our parliamentary system upon being able to obtain information from Ministers in reply to questions on public affairs. I know, because I have looked up the records, that in 1970 Senator Murphy himself stressed the fact that questions had been unanswered for 4 months and that that was an ample period over which the answers should have been given. Many other members of the present Government when they were in Opposition made the same sort of plea. I do not think that anyone questions the desirability of answers being given a promptly as possible.

At the present time I have some 24 questions directed to the Attorney-General which remain unanswered. Of course, four of them are of 12 months' duration, and my recollection is that none of them was asked during this month. So they were all asked in October 1974 or earlier. But four of the questions were first put on the notice paper in November 1973. When Parliament was prorogued they were placed again on the notice paper, and after the double dissolution they were again placed on the notice paper in July. In October of this year I asked 4 questions as to what was the delay in answering and when could I expect answers to be given, and I have not had any reply. I raise the matter for the Attorney-General's attention and ask him when the questions will be answered and what is the reason for the delay. The questions all relate to events which took place in March and April 1973 and it would appear unreasonable, as I see it, that answers have not been forthcoming. I leave it to the Attorney-General and I would welcome an indication of an early response.

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