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Friday, 3 April 1987
Page: 1834


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(11.40) —My responses in this area have not seemed to make me very popular in the past with the Opposition. I am glad that some signs of change of heart are evident in the course of this debate. The Government will not accept these amendments, essentially for the reasons set out in the reply of the Minister for Arts, Heritage and Environment (Mr Cohen) to Senator Crowley as Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills.

The basic point that needs to be made is that not only do these clauses have a tight geographical limitation but also, more importantly, the particular power can be exercised only, as clause 14 says, `For the purposes of performing his or her functions or exercising his or her powers under this Act'. That is not a matter of personal opinion of the person in question purporting to exercise those powers. It is something that is objectively testable in the courts. If someone should feel that the power is being improperly exercised, not for a purpose that is clearly evident or available under the legislation, that is something which is, I repeat, testable. We are not building in a capacity for subjective judgment here. There are objective standards that have to be met and accepted. It is on that basis that the Government believes that there are sufficient safeguards to ensure the non-abuse of these powers without adding the further layers of requirement that Senator Collard indicates and certainly without putting at risk civil liberties in the way that has been suggested by the Opposition.