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Thursday, 16 May 1985
Page: 2113

Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition)(6.27) —I move:

(1) Page 8, clause 16, proposed new section 234AB, leave out sub-section (1), insert the following sub-sections:

''(1) An officer may direct a person, including a passenger disembarking from, or embarking on, a ship or aircraft-

(a) not to operate a camera, or use an appliance to record or transmit sound, at a place in relation to which a sign is displayed under sub-section 234AA (2); or

(b) not to operate a camera, or use an appliance to record or transmit sound, at a place (being a place that is part of a ship, of an aircraft or of a wharf) at a time when the personal baggage of passengers disembarking from, or embarking on, a ship or aircraft, is being examined, for the purposes of this Act, at or in the vicinity of that place.

''(1A) Where an officer gives to a person a direction under sub-section (1), the officer shall inform that person that failure to comply with that direction is an offence under this Act.

''(1B) A person shall not fail to comply with a direction given to that person by an officer in accordance with sub-section (1).

Penalty: $1,000.''.

I want to speak briefly to that amendment. The purpose of the amendment is really to pick up what the Government has expressed in correspondence between the Minister and the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills as being its intention. The crux of the problem is the possibility that an innocent person may use his camera in circumstances in which there is a sign, but a sign of which he is not aware. We must bear in mind that we are dealing with two very different classes of people. We are dealing with some of the worst criminal elements in Australia, about whom we would all wish to do something, whom we wish to see aided in no way at all, and whom we wish to see brought to justice and so on. We are also dealing with the million-plus Australians who travel overseas, most of whom have a camera slung around their necks and who, in my experience, seem to take photographs of the most extraordinary things. I think a photo must have been taken of almost every object on earth in the course of a year.

The possibility of an innocent person being guilty of an offence was adverted to by the Committee. The Minister has, in a response which is reported in the sixth report of the Scrutiny of Bills Committee, made it clear that what is wanted is a basis for officers to draw the attention of people to the presence of signs advising that the actions objected to might be an offence and so on. Accordingly, we have put forward the amendment which gives officers the power to direct that people not use cameras, appliances and so on and which makes a failure to comply with that direction an offence. I again make clear that the Opposition is not particularly wedded to the form of the amendment although we think it effectively does what-

Senator Button —I am glad about that; I want to make a suggestion.

Senator CHANEY —That is fine. The Committee made a number of suggestions. After consultation with Mr Harry Evans we thought that this is probably the simplest way of doing it. But we are quite happy, provided the objective is achieved. I will let the Minister make his suggestion.