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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 7856


Senator FAULKNER (Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (11:41 AM) —Senator Nettle raises a scenario that might realistically occur under this regime. I accept it is one of any number of scenarios that might occur. At the end of the day, surely we depend on the experience and the commonsense of the prescribed authority to be able to make decisions about, in the case of this scenario, what seems to me to be a perfectly reasonable request from a lawyer who arrives in an emergency situation some time after the questioning has started. Senator Nettle raises that scenario. It seems to me that an explanation of rights by the prescribed authority would take a minute or two. I think we have to depend here on the good sense of the prescribed authority.

You raise this hypothetical scenario of a reaction by a prescribed authority and the need to take a minute or two to go through those details again in the presence of a lawyer. I imagine a prescribed authority would determine to do that. Effectively, this process is being overseen by the prescribed authority and it is making that decision. When we are legislating and looking at the provisions of the bill, I think our obligation is to try and ensure that we provide that authority and responsibility, as I have said consistently, to people of standing and seniority in the community, people the community can have confidence in, people whom we would expect to bring the appropriate level of experience, good sense and judgment to such decisions. I suspect that, whatever scenario might be contemplated by the senator, we are inevitably going to be in a position to say that this is a matter for the prescribed authority. But we want to ensure that under such a regime we can have maximum confidence in the capacity of the prescribed authority to make sensible and appropriate decisions about these sorts of issues.