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Thursday, 24 March 1994
Page: 2164


Senator COULTER (11.55 a.m.) —I thank Senator Harradine for the point he has just made. There is a very important point here which perhaps is likely to be passed over between Senator Watson and the Minister for Industry, Technology and Regional Development (Senator Cook). In proceeding with legislation, we should not be proceeding according to advice from the Attorney-General. The parliament itself is sovereign and we should be determining exactly what is the correct way to proceed. I anticipate, in relation to referring this matter back to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, that, following whatever that opinion is, it would be appropriate for this chamber and, as Senator Harradine and Senator Watson have pointed out, the House of Representatives to look at that advice and to adopt that as the way of proceeding. That should happen rather than proceeding on the advice of the Attorney-General.

  I find what Senator Watson has suggested, and what the minister has accepted, satisfactory as far as it goes in that it might provide further opinion. But ultimately it is the parliament that has to determine how it proceeds with legislation of this sort. Therefore, it is appropriate to pass this back to an instrument of this chamber—namely, the Senate standing committee—and, when that advice comes forward, to have a proper debate and then impose that decision on the government in terms of the way it brings legislation forward in future. That is the way it should be dealt with.