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Wednesday, 4 May 1994
Page: 162

Senator BOLKUS (Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (11.12 a.m.) —As indicated by Senator Spindler, the government opposes this amendment and amendment No.5 proposed by the Australian Democrats. I understand that we are supporting all the other amendments that Senator Spindler, on behalf of the Australian Democrats, will be moving. We oppose this one because we see that the tribunal established by the United Nations with a limited mandate is the proper forum in which war crimes allegations against persons should be considered.

  The government's concern is that if we were to incorporate the sorts of appeal rights and judicial review rights that Senator Spindler talks about, we could very easily be frustrating the work of the International War Crimes Tribunal. We would be frustrating it because, as we have seen quite often—particularly in my portfolio—the use of judicial review mechanisms can drag out a process for some three, four or five years. That is the sort of situation that we do not want to see eventuate by the incorporation of the principles contained in Democrat amendments three and five.

  Senator Spindler draws an analogy with the Extradition Act. The Extradition Act contains safeguards and covers a range of situations and arrangements with more than 100 countries. In this legislation we are talking about a war crimes tribunal; one body established by the United Nations with a limited mandate. I think one can draw a comparison between the specific mandate of that tribunal and the whole range of considerations that would fall within the ambit of the Extradition Act.

  This bill will be considered by the House of Representatives committee. That committee is now in the care of the eminent lawyer from New South Wales, the honourable member for Banks, Daryl Melham, who has brought his own drive and enthusiasm to the committee. I am sure that the sorts of issues that Senator Spindler talks about will be exhaustively assessed by that body.