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Monday, 20 September 1999
Page: 8404


Senator VANSTONE (Justice and Customs) (4:53 PM) —Senator, obviously I have only just heard that question, but what comes to mind, for example, is the no cost, no legal representation schemes that exist in some of the states—the small jurisdictions areas. I do not know that there is a constitutional difficulty that I can see. I simply think they are mistaken and misguided, and that under the system the government is proposing there will be more legal advice available to people. It is important, since you have given me the opportunity in raising this, to remind senators of the arrangement to ensure that a relevant commissioner can act as a friend of the court. For example, in test cases on a very public issue that might relate to disability, the commissioner can act as a friend of the court and, for that matter, almost run the entire matter as a friend. So I think those points have been overlooked by the opposition.