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Thursday, 21 March 1985
Page: 612

Senator HARRADINE(8.55) —Mr Chairman-

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Townley) —Order! Senator Harradine, we are not here to discuss your previous voting pattern as much as to get this legislation passed or not passed.

Senator HARRADINE —I understand that, Mr Temporary Chairman, but I wish to respond to what was said. I indicate clearly to the Committee that what Senator Walsh has just said is incorrect; it is wrong. He said that I voted to remove from the Fraser Government's legislation clause 3 (12). Clause 3 (12) was not in the Fraser Government's legislation.

Senator Walsh —Of course it was.

Senator HARRADINE —There was no relevant Act of Parliament in existence at the time. How, then, could I vote to remove clause 3 (12) from legislation that was not in existence at the time? That is the very point I am making.

Senator Walsh —Tell us whether you were a member of the NCC. That only requires a simple yes or no.

Senator HARRADINE —I will come to the question of the relevance of this matter. Poor old Senator Walsh has changed his ground. He is defeated on that. He knows that what he has said is wrong, so he is starting his catcalling. Honourable senators will recall Senator Walsh's previous attempts to smear when he suggested that I voted against retrospectivity only when my vote was crucial. My vote is not crucial tonight; it will not make any difference. I can walk out of that door tonight and Senator Peter Rae's amendment will be carried. My vote means nothing on this. I will, however, be voting for Senator Peter Rae's amendment, consistent with my opposition to this principle, which I believe undermines certainty before the law. If this type of retrospective action-to clothe with a penalty actions which were legally taken previously-is allowed by this chamber to be placed in legislation by this Government, then a future government can direct retrospective legislation which will seriously affect other people in the community. Even State governments could do the same thing.

Senator Walsh —They often have.

Senator HARRADINE —I put this example to Senator Walsh, in all honesty. What if a State Government suddenly whacked out a scheduled disease under the workers' compensation legislation? That would be reprehensible because it would have retroactive effect. I believe there is a serious matter to be considered here, and we ought to be considering it as maturely and with as much intellectual honesty as we can muster, without descending into catcalling.