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Tuesday, 4 November 2003
Page: 21911

Mr McCLELLAND (2:11 PM) —My question is to the Attorney-General and it is with respect to options of proscription. Can the Attorney-General confirm that the government received a proposal from Labor in June of this year for legislation to enable the Attorney-General to apply to a court for a listing of a terrorist organisation not listed by the United Nations Security Council? Isn't it the case that Labor's proposal is modelled on an existing mechanism inserted into the Commonwealth Crimes Act by a conservative government to enable the declaration of unlawful associations? If the proscription of these organisations is an urgent matter of national security, why has neither the Attorney-General nor his predecessor had the courtesy to provide Labor with a response for this proposal delivered to the government in good faith nearly five months ago?

The SPEAKER —The member for Lalor! I would have thought the Attorney-General was asked the question. I didn't realise the member for Lalor was licensed to respond to it.

Mr RUDDOCK (Attorney-General) —It is the case that this matter was raised with the former Attorney and—

Mr Crean —And you!

Mr RUDDOCK —I said `and'—and that a letter was sent to me early in the period in which I was appointed drawing that matter to my attention. I understand the former Attorney had orally advised the shadow minister that the government did not see that as an appropriate measure in this instance. I have a letter which I intend to send to the shadow minister.

Opposition members—Oh!


The SPEAKER —The member for Lalor, for the second time!

Mr RUDDOCK —Let me make it abundantly clear what the government's position is. We think it is appropriate that the decision to list a terrorist organisation is made by the government, rather than a court, as the government has responsibility for ensuring the security of Australians and the information and the expertise with which to make a fully informed decision. Further, a government can act much more quickly than a court in relation to these matters and a government, at the end of the day, is far more accountable than a court in relation to any decision that it takes.