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Thursday, 28 March 1985
Page: 1006


Senator DURACK(6.14) —We are probably groping in the dark here, not knowing on this side what Mr Justice Stewart has said, whereas the Minister for Resources and Energy (Senator Gareth Evans) does. I must say that the way in which the Minister has described the procedures that will apply here as between the police giving evidence to Mr Justice Stewart and then possibly their getting indemnity to give evidence at a subsequent prosecution is somewhat mind boggling as to how it will work. This idea of an indemnity subject to a condition subsequent is pretty strange. I do not know whether there is any precedent for that. I point out to the Minister that the second reading speech does not describe the position in that way. It may be that that is not correct. As I read it, it clearly contemplates the granting of an indemnity only after a person has given evidence to Mr Justice Stewart. The question of whether an indemnity would be given would be based on the recommendations of Mr Justice Stewart. The condition precedent to it would be the satisfaction of the conditions laid down in the second reading speech. That, of course, is what gives rise to Senator Sir John Carrick's very grave concern. The police officers are on the horns of a dilemma.

In answer to that the Minister has said that there will be this other procedure which, in itself, will create tremendous problems as to applying it and whether or not it will be satisfactory to the police. I would have thought that they would want an assurance that they will get an indemnity before they give all that co-operation. In the end it will not be for Mr Justice Stewart to give the indemnity; it will be for the Attorney-General after he has consulted with the Director of Public Prosecutions. It seems to me that the procedures contemplated will be extremely difficult to implement. The more one looks at it and hears the Minister's explanation of it the more concerned one is becoming that this whole thing is being directed from the Cabinet and influence is being exerted on the Attorney-General in Cabinet rather than being determined in the proper way-by the fearless independence of the Attorney-General.