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Friday, 5 October 1984
Page: 1309

Senator BUTTON (Minister for Industry and Commerce)(11.12) —As I said earlier, I think that we have been through this argument before. The Government opposes the amendments moved by Senator Rae. He referred in his comments to the Bounty (Two-Stroke Engines) Bill which was debated in this place earlier this year. On that occasion he gave notice that on every occasion he would move similar amendments. I congratulate him on his dilligence. At that time the Senate had a quite lengthy debate about the matter of entry by warrant under bounty legislation. The provisions which are contained in this bounty legislation and to which Senator Rae objects-I think that on the last occasion we agreed they were included in 19 bounty Acts-are not new. They are consistent with the powers provided by governments of all political persuasions to ensure that taxpayers are fully protected by appropriate audits of the expenditure of taxpayers' money. The Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills did not draw the attention of honourable senators to the power in the Bills on this occasion.

The proposition that a warrant should be obtained granting officers a right of entry to commercial premises is, in the Government's view, inappropriate for compliance auditing of bounty payments. In saying that I am repeating what I have said on other occasions. I just say that with respect the readings from the report of the Australian Law Reform Commission do not, in my view, extend the ambit or the content of this debate. The extracts to which Senator Rae referred are largely concerned with the power of Customs to search and seize property and to conduct body searches. In these bounty Bills we are not talking about that sort of situation. We are talking about the right to inspect and copy documents. Those are the powers which are essentially included in the Bills.

Senator Peter Rae —Enter.

Senator BUTTON —Enter, inspect and copy documents, I concede that. They are the powers about which we are talking. For the reasons which I enumerated on many occasions we will not accede to the amendments moved by Senator Rae.