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Wednesday, 11 December 2002
Page: 7690


Senator BROWN (11:14 AM) —I have one quick follow-up point on that. I do not want to dwell on the parliamentary aspect of this, because I think there are many unseen sequelae or outcomes from this legislation that the government simply has not thought about. If a parliamentarian did want to protect her or his information or simply did not have the information, and that was not believed, they may well end up in jail. As a result of the criminal offence, they would lose their seat in parliament and that would force a by-election. There are seven chambers at least in the Australian system where an MP so arraigned may hold the balance of power. There are enormous consequences for this legislation in terms of parliamentary representation and the right of parliamentarians to protect sources. I repeat that they must have it absolutely clear in their conscience that they are in no way doing so in a way which would be invidious to the safety and security of their community.

People may say that that is a long shot, but you have to look at such eventualities in legislation like this and, as best you can, deal with them. Senator Grieg's question raises the lack of provision in this legislation for ensuring that employers do not penalise people who are taken in by ASIO. There is no provision for that in this legislation. The government simply has not looked at that consequence. All it has focused on are the recommendations from ASIO to expand its powers. It has not dealt with the widespread ramifications into the community from not just the abuse but the use of this very draconian legislation, and it should have. This legislation is as notable for what is not in it—the checks that are missing from it—as it is for the powers that are in it that are able to be exercised by ASIO and the government of the day.