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Thursday, 16 February 2012
Page: 1589


Mr KATTER (Kennedy) (10:23): by leave—I move amendments (1) to (10) as circulated in my name:

(1) Schedule 1, item 2, page 3 (lines 23 and 24), omit paragraph 3(d).

(2) Schedule 1, item 3, page 3 (lines 27 to 31), omit the item.

(3) Schedule 1, item 16, page 5 (lines 4 to 7), omit the item.

(4) Schedule 1, items 23 and 24, page 5 (line 23) to page 6 (line 2), omit the items.

(5) Schedule 1, item 31, page 6 (lines 23 to 26), omit the item.

(6) Schedule 1, items 36 to 39, page 7 (lines 8 to 25), omit the items.

(7) Schedule 1, item 49, page 10 (lines 6 and 7), omit paragraph 10(h).

(8) Schedule 1, items 52 to 71, page 20 (line 14) to page 39 (line 9), omit the items, substitute:

52 Part 1 of Chapter 7

Repeal the Part.

53 Division 1 of Part 2 of Chapter 7

Repeal the Division.

(9) Schedule 1, items 78 to 86, page 46 (line 10) to page 47 (line 24), omit the items, substitute:

78 Section 65

Repeal the section.

(10) Schedule 1, item 103, page 50 (lines 1 to 13), omit the item.

I will not go into the details of these amendments, because I think most people have made up their minds about which way they are going here. The amendments cut to the coercive powers. There are certain pillars upon which our society is built—habeas corpus, the fact that land cannot be taken from us, section 39 of the Magna Carta. A more modern one is the right to silence. It is accepted in every single jurisdiction in the world that I know of. You cannot have it tortured out of you; we are not the Spanish Inquisition. And that is really what the coercive powers are about: we can grab you, hold you, put you in incarceration and you will talk—and if you do not talk you are breaching the law and we are going to keep you there indefinitely.

Does any fair-minded person really believe that that is what should be happening here? The history of this is that there was excessive behaviour at one stage, going back to the days of the painters and dockers. But we have to go back 50 years now in order to quote those sorts of incidents. There may have been some excessive behaviour that sparked this legislation. But it was bad legislation at the start. It was excessive legislation. I go back to that famous legal phrase that hard cases make bad law.

We are continuing on with the bad law, all due respect to the government, because this is a cunning little two-step. It was the people on my right who decided we would deregulate the labour market. Ask the farmers about deregulation. Ask them how they fared under deregulation. When the dairy farmers were deregulated and faced these sorts of oppressive powers—

Mr Entsch: They deregulated themselves.

Mr KATTER: They did not deregulate themselves. That is a lie, and it is perpetrated by people who tell lies.

The SPEAKER: The honourable member will return to the substance of the amendments.

Mr KATTER: Coercive powers are used. We do not live in a jungle. We live in a civilised society, and we must attempt at all times to assert the principle of a civilised society where we do not have coercive powers. Why is it that in no other area of the law do we have coercive powers?

In this case we are talking about safety. We are talking about riggers working on steel skeletons 40 storeys above the ground. We are talking about people going down mines, where, if a cable is not properly tied down, the entire roof will collapse. For those who think that does not happen, I was in a taxi in Mt Isa and I asked the driver, 'Why did you leave a job at $200,000 a year as a miner?' He said, 'Because I was asked to do the tie-down cables.' I said, 'But you don't know anything about tie-down cables,' and he said, 'Too bloody right I don't. I told the young engineer, "No way in the world," and he said: "Well, you're the only one who's got any experience here. No way in the world will I touch it." ' Because he did not want to appear to be stupid, this young engineer went off and attached the cables himself. Twelve minutes after crib time the entire roof of the crib came down, and it would have killed 16 people.

The SPEAKER: The honourable member will address the amendments he is proposing.

Mr KATTER: What we are proposing here is the removal of those coercive powers now instead of having, in three years time—as the government well knows—this other mob over here coming in. They cannot even spell 'workers' rights'; it means something different to them. To the government I say: fair go; we know what you are up to here. You have appeased all your corporate bonus sponsors and friends. You have made them happy, because it was never really going to happen, because the other mob will get in and of course will never remove the coercive powers.

So that is the reason we are moving these amendments today. This is not excessive legislation that we have proposed. It is simply getting in step with the rest of Australia and the rest of the world. As the great Alfred the Great said, 'I want it to be said of we English that we are a civilised people.'