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Tuesday, 3 May 1994
Page: 78


Senator NEWMAN (6.48 p.m.) —I could comment on Senator Lees's argument there. If her argument had been accepted over the years in relation to other offences, Australians' liberty would now be very constrained indeed. While I well recognise the importance of the end, we in this place cannot afford to ignore the means by which the end is achieved, particularly in an issue like this where the rights of the citizens are so fragile and so easily overtaken by the executive arm of government.

  I would have thought that the Australian Democrats would have shown a great deal more concern about, first of all, giving the powers of the police to a bureaucratic body and then not putting the controls on that body which are imposed upon the police forces of this country. While I certainly support the need to eliminate fraud in the medical system altogether, I do not believe that it is justified for this parliament to allow it to happen by an erosion of the rights of the citizens. These are criminal offences which are being investigated. The police would have to get a search warrant in any circumstances to follow up such an offence. We should not extend the powers of anybody in this area so that they are greater than those already available to the police.