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Tuesday, 10 December 2002
Page: 7615


Senator BOLKUS (8:34 PM) —That is a very disappointing response from the Minister for Justice and Customs and one that shows enormous ignorance of some fairly critical issues here. There was not just `some suggestion'; some of the most pre-eminent lawyers in the country had some huge concerns as to the constitutionality of these provisions. I would have thought that on an issue such as this, where you deem it a serious issue, the parliament deems it a serious issue and we are making special time for it, you would have taken the time to actually brief yourself on some of those advices. People as eminent as former Australian government solicitors-general raised deep concerns about the constitutionality of this legislation. For you to dismiss them as `some concern', in your words, I think really reflects on you enormously badly in that you obviously have not briefed yourself on these issues.

You say that you will ask the Attorney-General whether it is possible for him to make the advice available to the committee. Great good that will do! He has been on notice for quite some months now in respect of that advice and all we get are these bland assurances from his officers saying, `We have been assured that this is okay.' On the one hand we have the `trust me' statement from the government, whereas lawyer after lawyer, Queen's counsel after Queen's counsel and senior counsel after senior counsel practising at bars across the country tell us that these provisions have grave constitutional doubt.


Senator Ellison —Read your own report.


Senator BOLKUS —I have read my own report. It is about time you read it. It is really good to see that finally you have discovered it. Maybe you should have read it this afternoon.


Senator Ellison —I was right all along. Reread it.


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Knowles)—Order! Senator Ellison.


Senator BOLKUS —You are out of order and you should be told that you are out of order—No.1.


Senator Ellison —You should have rolled up to the committee more often!


The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —Order! Senator Ellison.


Senator BOLKUS —Secondly, Minister—and Senator Faulkner was asking a few questions on this—can I ask you one question that was not addressed by either committee and could you provide an answer: is it possible for a warrant to be issued from a judge by telephone?