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Thursday, 28 March 1985
Page: 1003


Senator CHIPP (Leader of the Australian Democrats)(5.57) —Few senators have been more critical of the Government over the Age tapes affair and the apparent neglect of organised crime than I have in the past. But today I do not want to refer to that. I want to be as generous as I can in commending and congratulating the Government on responding to what is, undoubtedly, public opinion and what are political realities, as it has by introducing this legislation. I want to be as warm as I can in my congratulations for the Attorney-General (Mr Lionel Bowen) and those Cabinet colleagues who agreed with him about this legislation.

I join with Senator Durack in asking the Minister for Resources and Energy (Senator Gareth Evans) to explain to me, a non-legal person, how the indemnities will work. As I understand it-and I agree with the Government on this-Mr Justice Stewart must be satisfied that one of those 31 policemen may be able to assist with his inquiries before indemnity is granted. Let us assume a hypothetical case-that a certain policeman A is called before Mr Justice Stewart because he believes he can help. The policeman is then cross-examined but before this occurs I take it that an indemnity will have to have been given for the policeman's own safety. Let us assume that after the cross-examination Mr Justice Stewart believes that that policeman has not told the truth or that he has withheld information. What is the mechanism then? Does Mr Justice Stewart go back to the Attorney-General and say: 'This fellow did not tell the truth, cancel his indemnity'. Is he then liable to prosecution?