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Tuesday, 10 December 2002
Page: 7623

Senator NETTLE (9:27 PM) —I rise to talk about the difference between issuing authorities and prescribed authorities. I am well aware of the distinction, although I thank the minister for pointing it out. Making the distinction does not alleviate any concerns that I, or others who expressed concerns in the committee, have about the close relationship between employees of the government—whether they be issuing authorities or prescribed authorities. They are making a decision to pursue a warrant and then to oversee questioning. That distinction in the role of the AAT certainly does not ease any concerns that I, and the people who expressed them at the committee, have about the close relationship between those authorities and the government.

I continue to express concern about the rationale in terms of the number of retired judges not being adequate. I understood the evidence given by Dennis Richardson at the time to mean that, since September 11, he believes this legislation would have been used on two or three occasions. That does not give us any idea of how many times it will be used per year but, as Senator Bolkus pointed out, the period since September 11, 2001 has been a period of intense activity on this front. One would anticipate that if this legislation, as the director-general said, were used on only two or three occasions, that would give us some idea about the likelihood of the ongoing use of this legislation.

I direct a question to Senator Faulkner. Senator Faulkner, you described evidence that had been given before the Senate committee about the distinction made in the issuing of the prescribed authority. You said that evidence had been put to the committee that we needed to ensure that there were different people who fulfilled these roles. It could be that I have not found it. Could you explain to me where that distinction exists in the model put forward by the opposition between the role of the prescribed authority and the role of the issuing authority, which was something that was put forward in the committee as a concern by some groups.