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Tuesday, 30 September 1997
Page: 7196


Senator ELLISON (Minister for Customs and Consumer Affairs and Minister Assisting the Attorney-General)(3.07 p.m.) —Yesterday Senator Kernot asked me about a matter about which I undertook to get back to her. I seek leave to incorporate the supplementary information in Hansard and to table it.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows

Yesterday Senator Kernot asked me if the Attorney-General will be allowing the Australian Law Reform Commission to submit evidence before the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Native Title. I advised that I would take instructions from the Attorney-General about that matter.

The Attorney-General has advised me that the issue is whether the ALRC, a body created by Parliament for limited purposes, has power to do it. The Attorney cannot direct the ALRC to do things which it (the Commission) has no power to do.

The Attorney's view is that the ALRC, having no current relevant reference, would be acting outside its own statute in doing so.

There is no issue related to free speech involved in this. The Commission is not an ordinary person. It is a special body created by Parliament for limited and special purposes.

The Attorney has not instructed anyone not to give evidence to the Parliamentary Joint Committee. Nor has anyone done so on his behalf.