Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Friday, 28 November 1986
Page: 2968

Senator WALTERS(10.36) —It is all very well for Senator Gareth Evans to try to lead us off this question. I have little comment following the apt description by Senator Durack and Senator Sir John Carrick of the gagging by the Australian Democrats supporting the Australian Labor Party, of a Bill on human rights. I do not think there is any need for me to say anything further about the hypocrisy which that action entailed following their publicly announced decision-part of their policy-that they would never apply the gag. As I say, two honourable senators have already dealt with that situation far better than I can.

Senator Gareth Evans says that the letter of the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) to the Australian Democrats promising a deal-if they voted for the legislation he would make sure that the Human Rights Commission takes on the electoral laws in Queensland-was not misleading the Parliament. Is the Minister saying that the Commission had not had any legal opinion at all advising it that it did not have any power at all to follow that course through Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights? Is the Minister suggesting for one minute that the Government had not sought any legal opinion? Is the Minister suggesting that the Human Rights Commission knew that it had no power under Article 25? He keeps telling us that it has never reached a view on that. Is the Minister saying for one minute that he did not know that the Commission was quite well aware that it had no power because legal opinion had been given to it? If that is what the Minister is saying, I would be most surprised. I believe that the Commission was well aware it knew that it had absolutely no power under Article 25 to enter into any inspection of the electoral laws in Queensland. I believe that the Prime Minister, before he wrote his letter, was also well aware that no legal power was available to him. I would like the Minister to answer those questions.