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Tuesday, 25 June 2002
Page: 2591

Senator HARRIS (8:56 PM) —by leave—I move One Nation amendments (1), (3) and (5) on sheet 2515:

(1) Schedule 1, item 4, page 10 (lines 15 to 19), omit subsection (4).

(3) Schedule 1, item 4, page 11 (lines 10 to 14), omit subsection (4).

(5) Schedule 1, item 4, page 11 (lines 27 to 31), omit subsection (4).

These amendments are being introduced to take into account the government's original proposal to have a reverse of the onus of proof. As the debate on this bill has progressed, responses from the Australian people have come into every senator's and member's office in this place, and the government has responded to that public pressure. I understand that senators on all sides of politics have received an absolute flood of emails, telephone calls, faxes and personal delegations in relation to this legislation. This really is a historic moment for Australia, because it proves that people power can change the course of legislation—albeit, in this case, the amendments have not gone far enough for One Nation to support the legislation.

If we look at the running sheet, we see very clearly that, as we have progressed through the amendments, any amendments that have been put forward by the Australian Greens, the Democrats or, to some degree, the opposition have failed. We still have the probability that this legislation will come out of the committee stage having been substantially amended but, I believe, will still not be acceptable to the Australian public. I am very proud that One Nation have spearheaded the campaign to get this legislation out to the people. Yes, we have been innovative.

Yesterday, we had Senator Bolkus making comments relating to the issue of emails and inferring that some of the emails may have been disparaging because they were forwarded from somebody else. Contrary to that, I believe that IT in the chamber is an amazing facility and I congratulate the government for supporting its operation here. They may sometimes regret it, even to the point of clearly stating that they do not appreciate being asked questions directly from the Australian people via email. Last night Senator Robert Ray commented:

The way we must approach these matters is to look at them as if we were in government. We must strip everything away and assume for the moment that we are in government: what would we think was the most appropriate legislation then?

There is a clear indication for the Australian people that, whether they vote Liberal or Labor on this raft of bills, they are going to get passage of these bills. One of the emails I have just received says:

Dear Parliamentarian I followed the debate on the proposed terrorism laws with utter dismay. Such antidemocratic laws will have grave consequences for ordinary Australians. We do not need any of these draconian laws. The existing criminal laws are adequate for dealing with terrorist offences. No-one should be imprisoned or detained unless they have committed a crime or a case can be shown, on reasonable grounds, that they might have. Everyone should be afforded independent legal representation. These laws fundamentally threaten Australia's liberties and way of life. These laws will create a society of fear, paranoia, division and misery. I am appalled that any Australian politician would seriously consider introducing these laws. I wish you to know that, unless your party opposes these laws and any amendments, vigorously, totally, I will not vote for your party again. I sincerely believe that any party who supports these laws will be remembered for their ending Australia's period of democracy and liberty. As such, I urge you to oppose also the ASIO bill outright. Please do not underestimate the level of concern that many people feel about this issue. As history can attest, once implemented, such laws and the damage they would invariably cause can take decades to rectify, if at all. Yours faithfully...

I have no doubt that similar emails have been received by all of the members here in the chamber. In speaking to these amendments, I indicate to the chamber that, as a result of the government having amended the original bills, in every case, to take into account the issues that One Nation has raised, I formally withdraw all One Nation amendments. The sections of the bills they referred to have been altered by the government. I commend the government for having listened to One Nation and to the Australian people who have directly voiced their concerns to every member in this chamber.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Cook)—I understand you to have withdrawn One Nation amendments (1), (3) and (5) and (2), (4) and (6), Senator Harris.