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Tuesday, 3 December 2002
Page: 7074


Senator HARRIS (11:05 PM) —I indicate that One Nation will support Senator Barnett's amendment (6A) because it sets out quite a reasonable regime for the licence holder to come back to the NHMRC and report progress. I believe that this is appropriate because clause 25 sets out that the licensing committee can vary a licence by giving notice in writing. That is in clause 25(1). Clause 25(2) states:

The NHMRC Licensing Committee may vary a licence under subsection (1) on its own initiative or on application by the licence holder.

So a licence can initially be granted to carry out a specific type of research, and the NHMRC then has the ability to vary that licence. The person who is doing the research may find that they want the licence to go in a different direction, and they can also apply to the NHMRC to vary that licence. To have an understanding of, and for the public to know, the direction of this research, we do need this consistent reporting. I do not believe that it would impose on any eminent scientific establishment in this country—establishments which have their own reporting programs—to have them referred back to the NHMRC on a six monthly basis. In response to Senator Harradine's amendment (3) on sheet 2751, moved earlier this evening, I gave a quote off the cuff from the Annotated Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia. I would just like to clarify that the total quotation is from page 346 and is under heading 33 `And all Laws'. It states:

No difficulty is suggested by the words, “and all laws made by the Parliament of the Commonwealth under the Constitution.” The words “under the Constitution” are words of limitation and qualification. ... A law in excess of the authority conferred by the Constitution is no law; it is wholly void and inoperative; it confers no right, it imposes no duty, it affords no protection ... To be valid and binding, they must be within the domain of jurisdiction mapped out and delimited in express terms, or by necessary implication, in the Constitution itself. What is not so granted to the Parliament of the Commonwealth is denied to it.

That was the point I was making earlier. If the power is not expressly set out in the Constitution, then the Commonwealth does not have the power to make those laws. Also, if it is in excess of the powers of the Commonwealth, it has no authority, confers no right, imposes no duty and, even more importantly, affords no protection. I wanted to clarify that for the record.