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Wednesday, 11 December 2002
Page: 7705


Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (12:29 PM) —I move government amendment (15) on sheet DT377:

(15) Schedule 1, item 24, page 14 (after line 17), after section 34E, insert:

34EA Questioning to occur before prescribed authority who did not issue warrant

If:

(a) the person appears before a prescribed authority for questioning under the warrant; and

(b) the prescribed authority is a listed former judge who issued the warrant;

the prescribed authority must not allow the questioning to proceed and must give a direction under section 34F for the person's further appearance for questioning before another prescribed authority.

Amendment (15) amends the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Bill 2002 in relation to former judges as persons who may be appointed as issuing authorities or prescribed authorities or both. We had a good deal of debate about this yesterday and what we are saying with this amendment is that we are clarifying that a former judge who has issued a warrant in relation to a particular person cannot act as a prescribed authority in relation to that same warrant. This will ensure that there is no apprehension of bias. So in our amendment, whilst we are saying that a former judge could act as a prescribed authority or an issuing authority or both, that person cannot do both on the same matter. That then means that you cannot have the person who issues the warrant and who then presides over the questioning being the same person. That would be undesirable and that is what this amendment makes certain of. I think that really addresses a lot of the queries that were raised yesterday.

On the question of the number of former judges, let me just say that, whilst the government has been at lengths to point out the shortage of former judges and the lack of availability, we have yet to see those proponents of former judges who have said why, or where there are so many. Where is the proponents' proposal to say, `Yes, we do have enough former judges for you to rely on'? That has not been put to the Senate, and that perhaps is something missing in the argument of those people who propose that former judges should be the people who are prescribed and issuing authorities. Really, their argument does fail until they can at least put up some grounds for their claim that there are enough former judges.

Question agreed to.