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Tuesday, 23 August 1994
Page: 84

Senator BOLKUS (Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Multicultural Affairs) (6.29 p.m.) —I do not think there is much need to speak at length in response to Senator Spindler because I understand that most of the points he raised refer to specific amendments that he will be raising. I can say to Senator Vanstone that the information I have with respect to the discrepancy between `shall' and `may' is that proposed subsection 26A of the act deals with the disclosure of a person's former criminal record if he or she is called to give evidence in a criminal matter in his or her new identity. As the Senate knows, while proposed subsection 26A(2) of the act is in discretionary terms—

Senator Vanstone —I take a point of order, Mr Acting Deputy President. I ask the minister to speak a little more slowly so I will have a chance to hear what he is saying. It is too fast; it is meaningless. I am sorry; I cannot understand the minister.

Senator BOLKUS —Proposed subsection 26A(2) of the act is in discretionary terms. It is intended that where the person is called to give evidence for the prosecution in a serious offence—that is, one in which there is a real possibility of a gaol term or substantial pecuniary penalty—the criminal record be disclosed to the proper authorities. This direction is not intended to cover other cases such as where the person is to give evidence for the accused. The legislation does empower, but my understanding is that the explanatory memorandum makes it non-discretionary in a limited range of cases. We will get to that clause as we go through the committee stage. I think that is the only point that needed to be discussed. I look forward to the committee stage. I table a supplementary explanatory memorandum relating to the government amendments to be moved to this bill.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.

  Bill read a second time.