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Wednesday, 30 May 1984
Page: 2142

Senator HAMER —My question is to the Attorney-General, and I refer him to the Government's propaganda publication The Record of Government, each edition of which costs the taxpayer almost $30,000 to print. Is the Attorney aware that the Prime Minister's preface to the current edition boasts that the Government has ' a record of achievement of which it can be justly proud'? Does he believe these glowing words are justified by two particular references in the section devoted to his own portfolio, namely, those dealing with an Australian Bill of Rights and constitutional reform? As the document claims that an Australian Bill of Rights has been prepared, is he prepared to expose the Bill in draft form or does he insist on keeping it secret until after the election? Finally, given the publication's reference to deferral of all the Government's referendum proposals , will the Attorney add to the Prime Minister's throw-away line last month, which announced a referendum for simultaneous elections at the time of the next election by telling us what other referendums are to be put at the same time?

Senator GARETH EVANS —The Government's record has indeed been a fine one in a whole series of respects that are identified in the document in question. Of course, some of those achievements have a longer gestation period than others and the real triumph is in their conception and initial preparation rather than their actual production. In some instances the feat involved in their conception and initial creation is such as to justify some public reference to the triumph, albeit that the stage is a relatively early one. In relation to the Bill of Rights, as I have said on various occasions, a great deal of effort has already gone into the preparation of that document. An extended process of consultation is now envisaged for it to make it ultimately an even more triumphant piece of legislation than it might be if we were to act with undue haste.