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Wednesday, 11 December 2002
Page: 7701


Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (12:13 PM) —The government opposes these amendments and it does so on the basis that it is a fundamental principle of intelligence gathering that great care must be exercised in potentially exposing that intelligence to foreign governments whose interests may not align with Australia's. We may well be wanting to question someone who is not an Australian citizen—a foreign national—and who certainly does not have interests that align with Australia's. His or her own country might well share those interests that do not align with ours. As I understand it, other countries do not do this; they do not have this practice of advising the embassy when other nationals have been questioned. We believe that it is a fundamental aspect that we do not reveal our hand to anyone who may not have Australia's interests at heart. We do not believe that there is any requirement on Australia which would override that requirement that makes us observe our own interests as a priority.