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Thursday, 6 September 1984
Page: 585

Senator HARRADINE(4.31) —I wish to speak to the amendment that has been moved by the Australian Democrats to the motion of the Government to refer the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions. I do so at this late stage in order to appeal to the Senate to consider very carefully what we are about to do and how this affects our role and our integrity as a chamber of this Parliament. The amendment that has been moved by the Australian Democrats does not, in any way, reduce my fear that the acceptance of the Government's proposition will besmirch the integrity of the Senate and will confuse its proper role. We are about to say to the Parliament that it should become an informer for the Executive about the judiciary. I believe that that is a very damaging attack on the separation of powers in the Constitution.

I do not wish to canvass the matters that have already been canvassed in the debate so far-indeed, I might be out of order in so doing-but I wish to emphasise that this very serious challenge with which we are faced is not of the Senate's doing; it is not of the Government's doing. The allegations that have been made and are widespread, that we are exercising some political action in what we are about to do, are unworthy. I believe by this whole affair that we are now reaping the whirlwind of the type of political appointment that was made in 1974 to the bench of the High Court of Australia.

I would like the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) when responding to refer to what I have said in relation to the apparent confusion of the role of the Executive Government in respect of the judiciary. I have referred to the action taken by the Attorney-General, subsequent to the tabling of the report of the Senate Select Committee on the Conduct of a Judge, to get the Commonwealth and the Australian Federal Police to speak to Mr Briese. I also refer to the Executive Government's decision to pay for the costs of counsel for the judge. Is that not a confusion of the roles of the Executive Government? Should not the Parliament, if it carries the Government's subsequent motion, agree to pay for counsel not only of the judge but also of the witnesses who may be summoned to appear before the Senate Select Committee by summons so that we can discharge our responsibilities under section 72? As I said before, I for one am not going to be party, as I believe I would be in voting for this Government proposition, amended by the Democrats, to reducing the Senate's role to a common informer to an officer of the Executive about the judiciary.