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Thursday, 24 February 1977

Mr Jacobi asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:

(1)   Is it a fact, as reported in the Australian Financial Review of 1 December 1976, that the Government proposes to amend the Foreign Proceedings (Prohibition of Certain Evidence) Act which was passed recently.

(2)   Has he received advice that certain provisions of the Act may be unconstitutional; if so, what provisions.

(   3 ) Is it a fact that the Solicitor-General did not see the Bill before it was introduced into the House; if so, why.

(4)   If any of the provisions of the Act are unconstitutional, will this affect the validity of the order which has been issued in respect of the present proceedings before the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

(5)   What is the present status of the letter of request addressed to the Supreme Court of New South Wales seeking evidence of alleged price fixing of uranium.

(6)   Has the Court considered the letter of request in the light of the order made under the Act; if so, what order has it made.

(7)   Does the Government propose to amend the present Act in order to overcome constitutional invalidity; if so, how and when.

Mr Ellicott - The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   to (7) This question was placed on the notice paper prior to a bill to amend the Foreign Proceedings (Prohibition of Certain Evidence) Act 1 976 being introduced into the parliament. When introducing the amending Bill on 7 December 1976 I explained the reasons for the measure in my second reading speech(Hansard, p.3384). Since the passage of the amending legislation the orders which had been previously made under the Act have been revoked and fresh orders have been made in their place. I understand that proceedings on the Letter of Request addressed to the Supreme Court of New South Wales have been adjourned. As far as I am aware the Supreme Court has not made any order following upon a consideration of the Letter of Request.

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