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Tuesday, 23 September 1997
Page: 6763


Senator MURRAY(5.55 p.m.) —by leave—I move:

(4)   Schedule 1, item 19, page 7 (after line 26), at the end of section 6DA, add:

   (5)   Despite subsections (1) and (2), the Minister must not nominate a person under this section unless the Minister is satisfied that the number of eligible Judges, excluding persons who are Judges within the meaning of paragraph (d) of the definition of Judge , is insufficient to issue warrants under Part VI.

   (6)   If the Minister has nominated a person under this section and subsequently becomes satisfied that the number of eli gible Judges is sufficient to issue warrants under Part VI, the Minister, by writing, must withdraw the nomination of a person appointed under this section and the person's nomination ceases to have effect.

(8)   Schedule 2, item 2, page 15 (after line 4), at the end of section 12DA, add:

   (5)   Despite subsections (1) and (2), the Minister must not nominate a person under this section unless the Minister is satisfied that the number of eligible Judges, excluding persons who are Judges within the meaning of paragraph (d) of the definition of Judge , is insufficient to issue warrants under section 12G.

   (6)   If the Minister has nominated a person under this section and subsequently becomes satisfied that the number of eligible Judges is sufficient to issue warrants under section 12G, the Minister, by writing, must withdraw the nomination of a person appointed under this section and the person's nomination ceases to have effect.

(10)   Schedule 3, item 2, page 16 (after line 31), at the end of section 219AB, add:

   (4)   Despite subsections (1) and (2), the Minister must not nominate a person under this section unless the Minister is satisfied that the number of eligible Judges is insufficient to issue warrants under section 219B.

   (5)   If the Minister has nominated a person under this section and subsequently becomes satisfied that the number of eligible Judges is sufficient to issue warrants under section 219B, the Minister, by writing, must withdraw the nomination of a person appointed under this section and the person's nomination ceases to have effect.

The effect and intent of these amendments is indeed to establish a hierarchy of choice from federal judges to the AAT. It is clearly the view of the Labor Party that the workload objections of federal judges would be overcome if they were given sufficient resources to carry out the functions that they have. It is not within the ambit or possibility of this bill to deal with that. If the government did decide to give the federal judges greater resources, we would then, presumably, on the Labor Party's hypothesis, find judges withdrawing their objection to carrying out these warrants.

It is the intention of these amendments—and they still apply to the act—to force the minister to go through all the federal judges first, before he or she decides to access the AAT. As we said in our contribution to the second reading debate, we recognise that the AAT is the next best level after judges. We think the government has made the right choice in that regard, but we are also very determined that every single judge who is available to us must be explored. These amendments will constrain the Attorney-General in using non-judicial persons before he or she exhausts the pool of eligible judges. We hope that the Attorney will use as much of his persuasive powers as possible to persuade federal judges to continue with the same function that they are carrying out now.