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Tuesday, 10 December 2002
Page: 7615


Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (8:36 PM) —As I put it correctly—and I think Senator Bolkus ought to go back and have another look at it—the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee looked at the bill and addressed three issues. One of them was whether it is constitutionally valid for the executive to authorise the detention of a person who is not a suspect. That was looked at when the parliamentary joint committee was looking at other aspects of this bill. When I said that one of the previous committees had looked at this question I was right. There may be all manner of witnesses who made submissions to that committee, but I do not recall that committee saying—and perhaps Senator Bolkus can point to it—that this bill was unconstitutional.

We always get submissions on legal opinion which differ. In the 10 years that I have been associated with Senate committees, that is nothing unusual. The government has its own advice that this bill is constitutionally valid. For Senator Bolkus now to exaggerate the position of the legal aspect of this bill without acknowledging that matter of history does nothing to advance the rational debate of this bill which is an important one. I think that needs to be noted for the record. On the question of warrants issued by phone, the warrant has to be signed by the issuing authority and there is no provision for a telephone warrant.