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Notice given 16 July 2001

3716  Senator Bourne: To ask the Minister representing the Attorney-General—

(1) Is the Attorney-General aware that in October 1999, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee sought an explanation from the Australian Government as to whether the Australian and Queensland governments allegedly breached the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in relation to the failure to compensate a Cairns man, Mr Terry Irving, who was wrongly convicted and imprisoned in Queensland for 4½ years, following the High Court’s quashing of Mr Irving’s conviction in 1997.

(2) What material was used by Australia in its submission to the UN in this matter, with particular reference to any police statements which may have been relied upon.

(3) Why has the Australian Government suggested to the Human Rights Committee that Mr Irving is still guilty of a crime, when he is entitled, by law, to a presumption of innocence consequent to the High Court quashing his conviction.

(4) Does the Attorney-General stand by the Government’s reply to the UN Human Rights Committee, dated 30 October 2000 (at paragraph 22), that the Queensland Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) was satisfied that there had been no inappropriate conduct by members of the police force in Mr Irving’s case.

(5) How does the Attorney-General reconcile that submission to the UN with a public statement made by the CJC on 22 November 1999, that ‘The Commission concluded that the arresting officer had not been guilty of any criminal offence but her conduct was far from optimal, and disciplinary action was almost certainly warranted’.

(6) (a) Does the Attorney-General agree that the UN Human Rights Committee has been misled by the Australian Government in this instance; and (b) what steps does the Attorney-General propose to take with the UN Human Rights Committee to correct Australia’s error.

(7) (a) Can the Attorney-General confirm whether the Queensland Government informed the Commonwealth Government that a complaint under section 118 of the Queensland Criminal Justice Act was lodged with the Queensland Parliament on 15 August 2000, alleging the CJC knew of, and withheld, material evidence pointing to Mr Irving’s innocence, and left him in prison; (b) if the Commonwealth was so advised, can the Attorney-General explain why the UN Human Rights Committee was not informed of the substance and progress of that statutory complaint in Australia’s reply to the UN dated 30 October 2000; and (c) can the Attorney-General advise what steps the Commonwealth proposes to take to inform the UN Human Rights Committee of the substance and progress of that statutory complaint.

(8) Is the Attorney-General aware that the Irving case has highlighted the fact that Australia is also in breach of Articles 2 and 40 of the First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR.

(9) Is the Attorney-General aware that since Australia adopted the First Optional Protocol some 10 years ago, neither the Commonwealth nor the Queensland governments have taken any steps necessary, under Article 2, to provide for lawful compensation for Australians wrongly imprisoned, as is required under Article 14(6) of the ICCPR.

(10) Why, in the Government’s reply to the UN Human Rights Committee dated 30 October 2000, did the Government fail to point out that the Queensland Government has also breached Article 2 of the First Optional Protocol, in that the Queensland Government has failed to provide measures compliant with the terms of the ICCPR to compensate Australians wrongly imprisoned.

(11) Is the Government’s failure to implement measures for the payment of compensation connected with the fact that Australia has failed to provide reports to the Human Rights Committee, under Article 40 of the ICCPR, for almost 15 years, including a report which was due for submission on 12 November 1991.

(12) What steps are being taken to ensure that Australia complies with its international human rights obligations under the ICCPR, so that Australia’s already declining human rights reputation is not further damaged in the eyes of the international community.

3717  Senator Allison: To ask the Minister representing the Minister Assisting the Minister for Defence—Documents retrieved from Australian Archives indicate that a Centurion Tank was irradiated at ‘ground zero’ at Maralinga and later taken to Puckapunyal. How was that vehicle disposed of.