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Odgers' Australian Senate Practice Thirteenth Edition

Chapter 17 - Witnesses

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Foreigners as witnesses

Evidence may be taken from foreigners.[70] When in the jurisdiction of Australia they are liable to be summoned and to be required to produce documents, and may be dealt with for any contempt (unless, of course, they have diplomatic immunity as official representatives of their countries). This applies to corporations with foreign "parents" as well as to individuals. Australian law cannot protect them, however, in respect of the publication of their evidence in another country, and if they give evidence from overseas they are subject to the law of the country they are in as it may apply to the giving of their evidence, for example, where a foreign law forbids the communication of particular information.

The issue of a legislative subpoena to an official of an organisation possessing diplomatic immunity came before a US district court in 2005.[71] The court in effect suspended the operation of the subpoena to allow the parties to reach agreement.


70. For recent examples, see the inquiry of the Economics Legislation Committee into the Tax Laws Amendment (Public Benefit Test) Bill 2010.
71. United Nations v Parton (D DC, Civ No 05-0917, 16 May 2005).