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Tuesday, 11 May 2004
Page: 28286

Mr McClelland asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 4 March 2004:

(1) In respect of the discussion paper `Counter-Terrorism Powers: Reconciling Security and Liberty in an Open Society' released by the UK Government in February 2004, is he aware that the UK Home Secretary stated at page ii of the discussion paper that, “I therefore hope that this document will begin a wider debate over the next months. It is important that this process should be inclusive and genuinely consultative. I am therefore proposing a far longer period of consultation-six months-than would normally be the case”.

(2) Does he recall stating on 26 February 2004 that options canvassed in that discussion paper are also under consideration by the Australian Government.

(3) Besides the current Australian Law Reform Commission inquiry which is limited to protecting classified and security sensitive information, will he commit to a similar process of consultation with the Australian people on any legislative proposals, including the publication of a discussion paper, as the British Government has done.

Mr Ruddock (Attorney-General) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) I am aware that the UK Home Secretary made this comment.

(2) I recall stating that “While some of the measures referred to in the paper are already in effect in Australia or under consideration, the options will be examined to determine their relevance to Australia”.

I made this comment in a press release on 26/2/04.

(3) The Government is committed to combating terrorism and developing legislation that will assist us in achieving this. The Government continues to review legislative needs in relation to national security issues as they arise. In addition to this, the Government has regard to developments and practices adopted in like minded countries such as the United Kingdom.

The Government will continue to consult with the appropriate agencies and bodies in relation to new legislative proposals. Such consultation is evidenced by the terms of reference given to the Australian Law Reform Commission regarding the protection of classified and security sensitive information.