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Wednesday, 31 May 2006
Page: 9

Debate resumed from 30 May, on motion by Mr Turnbull:

That this bill be now read a second time.

upon which Ms Roxon moved by way of amendment:

That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:

“whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House notes:

(1)   that the Opposition demanded action to prevent the abuse of legal professional privilege in the Inquiry into certain Australian companies in relation to the UN Oil-For-Food Program (the Cole Commission) in March;

(2)   that the Attorney-General arrogantly rejected that demand at the time and incompetently waited almost three months, after a Federal Court case, before taking action with this Bill;

(3)   that, while this Bill proposes a sensible, albeit late, change to the law, it will not solve the broader problem that the Cole Commission’s Terms of Reference are limited;

(4)   that the current Terms of Reference do not allow the Cole Commission to make findings on whether or not Ministers, their offices and departments have discharged their duties under Australian administrative law and under international law (in particular UN Security Council Resolution 661);

(5)   that the Cole Commission has provided written advice that a change to the current Terms of Reference which would allow the Cole Commission to make such determinations is a matter that would be ‘significantly different to the existing Terms of Reference’ and is therefore a matter for the Executive; and

(6)   that if the Howard Government had nothing to hide in the $300 million wheat-for-weapons scandal, it would expand the Cole Commission’s Terms of Reference to allow Commissioner Cole to make such determinations”.