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Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Page: 4749


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (18:33): I acknowledge to the Greens that this is an element of law far beyond my capabilities, but I suspect the legal advice they are talking about is the same legal advice the government has been given. With no disrespect to the government advisors, their legal advice is not always the very best. Senator Brandis has had a very distinguished legal career and he is a Senior Counsel.

I am simply urging the Greens to take note of the good legal advice that Senator Brandis is offering for free. I suggest, with no disrespect to whoever is advising the government, that Senator Brandis's advice—and he has briefly explained the nature of it—should be followed. We all want the same thing, but the coalition are concerned that we do not get into this same problem again. There are elements of this bill which must make the Greens, as they make us, very nervous—some of the very wide powers that are being given to the government in the rushed through approach to dealing with this issue.

I did not intend to take part in this debate, but I think the Greens are on the same track as us. For some reason, however, the government has been able to convince them by putting forward some advice. I just think that, if we do not want to be back here within the next six months, amending this bill yet again—as we do with most of the legislation this government ram through the parliament—it is better to pass the opposition amendment today and then have another look at it within the next six months. If we are all happy with it in six months—there is nothing political about this; we are trying to help the government get to the conclusion we all want. It is just a procedural thing. Our suggestion of a sunset clause would, I think, help the whole chamber, the whole government and the whole of Australia get to where we all want to go.