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Thursday, 6 September 1984
Page: 519

Senator MISSEN —by leave-I move:

That the Senate take note of the statement.

I have had the opportunity of briefly reading the response of the Government this morning on this matter. I thank the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) for the remarks he made about the work of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs. From the statement which the Government has presented, clearly detailed consideration has been given to the various recommendations which the Committee has made. Some of those recommendations relate to constitutional changes that would be required in regard to the problems arising from the qualification and disqualification of members of parliament; others relate to changes in the electoral law and some of them have been carried out. Some of the Committee's recommendations have been overtaken by events and in a satisfactory way.

In regard to the response generally, I welcome many of the statements which the Government has made. In most cases, it supports the recommendations which the Committee has made. In some other cases it is a matter of doing so with some qualifications, of requiring some additional Standing Orders or adopting a different method of finalising the proposals which the Committee has put. I think that has to be looked at carefully by the Senate in the course of the debate on these proposals and also in the course of legislation which may come about as a result of the recommendations.

It does appear that there has been a very substantial response to problems inherent in the Constitution. In many cases, they are not ones that have in practice arisen but there are a number of areas in which they could well arise. A number of them have. One problem is the difficulties that arise when members of one House transfer to another House. Another problem is a section of the Constitution which has provisions as to disqualification, some of which are clearly outdated and are not now matters that would be subject in the public mind to disqualification. Bankruptcy is a matter in question.

All in all, the Government has made a substantial response to this report. These proposals deserve more consideration than the public or the media have given to them in the past when they were brought down as a Committee report. I have moved this motion in the absence of the Chairman, but I am sure that members of the Senate Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs will be very interested in the report. They will consider in detail likewise the proposals that the Government makes. This debate probably will not continue very far today. I hope that it will be resumed at a later stage. Unless someone else wishes to speak, I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.