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Odgers' Australian Senate Practice Thirteenth Edition

Chapter 18 - Documents tabled in the Senate

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Other submissions to the Senate

A person who wishes to bring matters to the attention of the Senate other than by petition may write to the President or Clerk. The President may table the correspondence if it is considered that the Senate should be informed of it.

On 1 November 1988 and 28 February 1989 the President tabled submissions from a Deputy President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission concerning his position on the Commission.[86] These submissions led to the appointment of the Joint Select Committee on the Tenure of Appointees to Commonwealth Tribunals to inquire into the principles which should govern that tenure.[87]

On 25 February 1992 a submission relating to proceedings in the Senate and in Estimates Committee A was tabled by the Deputy President. The claim was made in the submission that false evidence had been given to the committee and that false answers may have been given in respect of a question without notice. Another submission from the same citizen relating to alleged false evidence given to the committee was tabled on 4 May 1992.[88] The matters raised in the submissions were examined in part by the Public Accounts Committee in the course of its inquiry into an Australian Customs Service investigation and prosecution case involving the Midford Paramount company. This matter had been referred to the committee by the Senate. In its report the committee “concluded that not only the minister, but also Midford, their Tariff Advisor, the Comptroller-General and the committee had been misled ... ”.[89] Questions raised by the submissions, together with allegations of improper interference with the submitter in his capacity as a witness before the Public Accounts Committee, were subsequently referred to the Senate Privileges Committee. That committee concluded that a contempt had been committed by a threat by an unknown person to the witness, and that misleading answers had not been intentionally given.[90] The person who made the submission was compensated by the government because of his treatment by the Customs Service.

Similarly, in its 71st and 72nd reports, in 1998, the Privileges Committee reported on matters which were raised in submissions made by persons to the Senate, the first involving alleged misleading evidence to a Senate committee and the second alleged interference with a person who provided information to a senator.[91]

Other legislatures have occasionally submitted documents to the Senate. On 29 August 1962, the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory submitted a document entitled “The Remonstrance”, the terms of which were in a resolution agreed to by the Council, and referred to grievances of the Council.[92] Another remonstrance passed by the Legislative Assembly of that territory was presented on 28 October 1996, and a resolution of the Norfolk Island Assembly was presented on the same day.[93] A resolution of the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly on East Timorese asylum seekers was presented on 9 December 2002.[94] A resolution of the Queensland Legislative Assembly requesting an inquiry into a criminal prosecution was tabled on 24 November 2003.[95]

86. J.1050, 1385.
87. Report of the committee, PP 289/1989.
88. J.2007, 2238.
89. Joint Committee of Public Accounts, Report 325, the Midford Paramount Case and Related Matters, PP 491/1992, p. 206.
90. 50th report of the committee, PP 322/1994.
91. PP 86/1998, 117/1998.
92. J.129.
93. J.765.
94. J.1261.
95. J.2688.