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Friday, 23 November 1979
Page: 2952

Senator DURACK (Western AustraliaAttorney General) - Clause 15 deals with the power of the Attorney-General to give a certificate that certain evidence which it is sought to place before the Commission should not be given on grounds such as security, that they are Cabinet documents, or something of such a major character.

The clause is in a form that is broadly similar to that of clauses which appear in a number of other measures, such as the Ombudsman Act and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act. It is what one might term a fairly standard provision in legislation. The Senate Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs has submitted a major report on the Freedom of Information Bill which raises these matters for debate and consideration by the Government. The Government has not yet had an opportunity to consider what policy it will adopt in relation to these matters. In other debates this year, in which the same question has arisen- for instance, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation legislation- I have said that the Government, when it determines its policy in relation to freedom of information, will reconsider these types of clauses in various measures. They are all bound up with, and relevant to, the question of freedom of information but at this stage, pending that policy's being determined by either the Government or the Parliament, the Government believes that this clause, which is similar to clauses in other legislation, should stand. Therefore, it opposes the amendment.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 1 6 agreed to.

Proposed new clause 1 6a.

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