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Thursday, 31 August 2000
Page: 17067


Senator BOURNE (12:24 PM) —It appears to us that this is not nearly as good as having the review that we suggested—which has just been voted down—as well as the sunset clause. I cannot even say that it is a tenth as good. It is quite inadequate. Senator Faulkner mentioned that he believed a sunset clause would have the effect of returning to an unsatisfactory situation. No, it would not. Any government with any foresight at all and any feeling that this legislation was about to come to its sunset clause—and if a sunset clause is put in, we will all know exactly when that is—would write up a bill to replace this bill well and truly, months and months at least, before that sunset clause took effect. And even if that did not happen, why do we think Australia has suddenly turned into such a dangerous place that we need this? We have been going since 1903 as we are now. Why is it that we have to change next week?

We are being told that it is because of the Olympics. I do not think that is right. I think there has been so much security and so much ability to use security put in place for these Olympic Games that this has to be the most secure Olympic Games—without this bill—ever held; incredibly secure. Look at the changes to the New South Wales legislation; look at the training of the New South Wales police force and the TRG—and even of the SAS. I know that they are from the Defence Force, but they could be used under certain circumstances. They could be used to show the police what to do; they could be used under other circumstances. There is no need for this bill; there just is not the need for it now. Australia is not that dangerous a place that we certainly have to have this. Since 1903 we have been going along very nicely, thank you very much. The disaster has not happened; the disaster is not going to happen. The disaster is certainly not going to happen before we can get this bill right. So I do not think this is necessary.

On the other hand, my proposed amendment for a review has just gone down, so we are not having one. I honestly fear that the proposed amendments for a sunset clause will probably go down—all of them. I am going to vote for all of them, but I think they are all going to go down. I also fear, more than anything, that the Labor Party in the end will vote for this bill. I think that is a great tragedy. Because of all of that, to make it a bit better, I will be voting for this because I think it is about the fifth-rate way of making it better. It is certainly not the best way of making it better and it is not the second-best way of making it better. How many amendments do I have? It comes after them—it comes after the Greens amendments; it comes after Senator Harris's amendments and it comes after the opposition's and the government's amendments. This really is not the way to go—to just leave this bill in force and have a review.

We had a review after the incident at CHOGM in 1975. Justice Hope had a review and made some very good recommendations, some excellent recommendations, which have not been brought up in this bill. So you have a review, but that does not mean that what is said will be taken into account. We have Senate inquiries all the time that have excellent recommendations, very well thought out and very well-written recommendations, that could quite easily be put into legislation and should be, and everybody agrees that they should be. But they never are. There are an awful lot of Senate committee and joint committee recommendations that go absolutely nowhere. So you have a review and what happens? Nothing—far too often, nothing. I can see nothing in here at all that would make them implement the recommendations of any review. Where is the bit of this amendment that says that the recommendations of the review must be carried out? There is nothing like that, and of course they will not put that in.

There is a recommendation in the Hope report that states:

The Defence Force should be used only as a last resort, and an overriding principle is that troops should never in any circumstances be used to confront political demonstrators or participants in industrial disputes. Whatever logistical support they render, they must be protected by police, who alone must deal with any violence arising from objection to their support.

Where has the government put that into the bill? That was a very good recommendation of the Hope report. It came out of a review, and where is it in what has ensued from that review? Nowhere. The government has not even considered that recommendation. So what government is going to consider the recommendations? I guess it will consider the recommendations of any review that happens under this opposition amendment. Yes, it will consider those recommendations. Then it will probably say, `No, sorry, it is working perfectly, thank you very much,' because nothing will have happened. And even if something does happen, it will probably be the same. There will be a review and nothing will happen.

It is just as well to have a review, because—as I, myself, said with the last amendment—it would, I hope, bring out exactly what happened if any action was taken. I hope to goodness no action ever will be taken; but if it is then this should bring out what happened. But there will have to be a review of the legislation after three years and things will have to happen if there is a sunset clause. If we vote for this one, there will have to be a review but nothing need happen at all—and I suspect that is what will happen.

So a sunset clause, I believe, is a far better way to go. Better still than that is to vote against it now and let us start again. But we are not going to get that. Since we are not going to get that I will be voting for this. But I really think we should all go away and over the lunch break think very seriously about what will happen if this keeps going, what will happen if this bill is put in and there is no sunset clause, if this bill is put in at all. Australia is not that dangerous a place. It really is not a very dangerous place at all, thank goodness, and there is no necessity to put this in right now. We could do it next month or the month after or the month after. We could think about it properly. We could do it properly. We do not have to do this. Please consider that.