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Wednesday, 22 August 1984
Page: 216

(Question No. 968)


Senator Coates asked the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 14 June 1984:

(1) Has the Attorney-General seen the Canberra Times editorial of Sunday, 10 June 1984, concerning the Directions made by the High Court?

(2) Does the Attorney-General agree that it is inappropriate for the High Court to have the power to make such Directions; if so, does he intend to propose amendments to the High Court Act to ''Let the judges judge; let the legislators legislate; and let the executive execute''?


Senator Gareth Evans —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) Yes.

(2) The Directions in question were made by the Clerk of the High Court, on behalf of the Court, pursuant to the power conferred on him by section 19 (2) of the High Court of Australia Act 1979. Section 17 (2) of that Act provides that the Court has power 'to control and manage any land or building occupied by the Court and any adjacent land or building that is declared by Proclamation to be part of the precincts of the Court'. Section 19 (2) of the Act empowers the Clerk, on behalf of the Court, to give directions in writing for the purpose of regulating the conduct of persons on any land or in any building referred to in section 17 (2) (d) of the Act. Any such directions given by the Clerk must be tabled in each House of the Parliament and are subject to disallowance. The powers thus given to the Clerk of the Court, to be exercised on behalf of the Court, are consequential upon the basic provision in section 17 (1) of the High Court of Australia Act that the High Court is empowered to administer its own affairs subject to and in accordance with the Act. That power having been given to the High Court, it is appropriate that the Court should be empowered to control the conduct of persons on the land which is occupied by the Court or which is part of the precincts of the Court.