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Thursday, 4 December 1986
Page: 3392


Senator POWELL(4.35) —I rise to speak on this Human Rights Commission report about complaints relating to the protest at Pine Gap, November 1983. It is far from the case that a report such as this is a waste of money, as was claimed by Senator Newman. It is crucial to people in our society not only that a body such as the Human Rights Commission should exist but also that reports should be presented on occasions such as this when there are complaints relating to protests at Pine Gap. It is an established and fundamental fact that those rights which some people on the Opposition benches would have us believe are enshrined in common law do not necessarily exist. For that reason the Australian Democrats have long supported the legislation for an Australian Bill of Rights. In the event, that has not come into being and certainly we would want it on the record that that was not our wish at all. We have the Human Rights Commission and citizens have the ability to lay complaints and to have reports such as this presented which will allow them to place on the record their concerns-in this case concerns about treatment in a particular situation.

It is important to look in this report at the sorts of complaints which were laid-complaints about finger printing, harassment and intimidation and various aspects of the arrests themselves, such as strip searching and so on. I believe that one needs only to talk to people who were involved. I stress that one needs to talk to people on both sides in regard to an issue such as this, which is exactly what happens when the Human Rights Commission investigates these sorts of issues. One needs only talk to people who were involved in that area. We all had the opportunity to do so, as the previous speaker pointed out, when people who had been involved were in the vicinity of Parliament House at the end of October. They were not breaking the law; they were further exercising their rights as citizens of Australia, which the Human Rights Commission is here to protect.

Debate (on motion by Senator Kilgariff) adjourned.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Bjelke-Petersen) —The time allotted for the consideration of papers has expired.