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Wednesday, 6 June 1984
Page: 2671

Senator HILL(8.15) —I wish to speak briefly to the amendment moved by the shadow Attorney-General. I am surprised at the attitude of the Australian Democrats and what I suspect will be the attitude of the Government. It is totally familiar to us to have boards that comprise one or a number of persons one of whom is a legal practitioner. Such provisions usually contain words equivalent to those used by Senator Durack in this amendment suggesting a legal practitioner with some years' standing. I speak of boards with nowhere near the status and responsibility as will be held by the National Crimes Authority, with its coercive powers. Therefore that attitude surprises me.

Senator Chipp —You assume that being a legal practitioner makes a person better. That is a sense of arrogance which I find quite offensive.

Senator HILL —Senator Chipp has misinterpreted what I said. One takes as an example a person who is called to give evidence before the Authority and who claims privilege of self-incrimination. If Senator Chipp will go back to the report and reflect on the evidence put before the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs he will recall that a great deal of evidence was put to the effect that in such circumstances a determination will have to be made as to whether that can be validly claimed. Simply to make the claim is insufficient. It is all very well for Senator Chipp or somebody else to say that the commissioner can take advice from counsel assisting him. Nevertheless, the Authority, if it is just one person, will have to decide whether he requires the answer to be given. It seems to me to be so obvious that the appropriate person to make those decisions is somebody with legal training and who is aware of the provisions of the criminal law and the extend of various rights and privileges. Therefore, I express my surprise at the Democrats' attitude in this regard.