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Friday, 15 November 2002
Page: 6533


Senator LUDWIG (2:33 PM) —We all know that Mr Damian Bugg, the Director of Prosecutions, does have guidelines to deal with these matters. If you accept our amendment, he still has the guidelines. The guidelines do not change but, if you accept our amendment, it at least makes it a little clearer for him to implement the guidelines and deal with them. You know that. It certainly does not change how his guidelines will operate. I think it is mischievous to bring in Mr Damian Bugg and the matter of the guidelines. The Director of Public Prosecutions guidelines are, within reason, relatively clear. But, as I recollect the process, the decision rests with him, on recommendation to the Attorney-General, as to what prosecutions he may take.

This matter is one where this government can show some compassion. It has not demonstrated that up to this point of time. It could; I invite it to. I thank the Democrats for supporting the amendment. They see the need for ensuring that legislation such as this does not have onerous provisions contained within it. It does provide for some latitude for those people who are less fortunate than we are. It does ensure some latitude, for instance, for problem gamblers who are not aware—and could not be expected to know—that their gambling may place them in breach of section 271 of the Bankruptcy Act. I am sure that that is not the first thing that they consider when they find themselves in debt as a consequence of their gambling. In fact, most of them do not wish to be in that situation, I am sure, in the first place.

If a prosecution were to be recommended and were to be proceeded with, the courts are in a position to determine whether a position needs to be prosecuted and the definition of a necessity. I am confident of that. Even if Senator Abetz cannot, the courts can certainly determine whether a plasma television—and I am not sure I know what that is—is a necessity. I do not think restrictive legislation, such as is currently contained in the statute books, needs to be continued with. I thought this government was looking for less regulation and less specificity in legislation. This is one of the things where, Senator Abetz, as the representative in this chamber for small business you could make a blow. You could remove a bit of specificity and red tape from the Bankruptcy Act and assist by ensuring that that provision is removed. The specificity that you have is unnecessary. It is a framework that we could deal with, and I am sure you can bring yourself to agree to it.

Question agreed to.