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Labor will stand up for the right of Australians to hold their Government accountable



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ADELAI E OFFICE PO BO 5, TORRENSVILLE PLAZA SA 5031 101 HE LEY BEACH ROAD MILE E SA 5031 TEL: 08 52 7477

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33

No.34/97

SENATOR THE HON NICK BOLKUS SHADOW ATTORNEY GENERAL SHADOW MINISTER FOR JUSTICE LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

MEDIA RELEASE

30 June 1997

LABOR WILL STAND UP FOR THE RIGHT OF AUSTRALIANS TO HOLD THEIR GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABLE

Shadow Attorney-General, Senator Nick Bollcus, today attacked the Government's proposed changes to the administrative law system.

"Australia's administrative law system, established under the Fraser government and enhanced by the Hawke and Keating governments is one of the hallmarks of our democracy," Senator Bollcus said. "It is one of the principal means through which ordinary citizens can hold the Government accountable on a day to day basis."

Senator Bolkus' criticisms followed reports that the Government was considering winding back the rights that every Australian enjoys to seek review of Government decisions both judicially and on the merits.

"These changes are part of a massive and sustained attack by this Government on the rights of citizens to hold them accountable. Other decisions which will have a significant impact on the rights of Australians to stand up against bad Government decisions include: • cuts to the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity

Commission; • the attacks on institutions fundamental to our democracy such as the High Court and the Rule of Law; • effectively removing the right of many Australians to access our justice system by cutting

$120 million from legal aid funding and another $280 million from other access to justice programs, including massive court and tribunal fee increases; • the plans to remove simple administrative remedies for breaches of human rights by Government departments and agencies thereby forcing Australians to protect their rights in

the courts; • defimding, or restricting the activities, of agencies critical of the Government including the ABC, the Australian Consumers Association and Environmental Defenders Offices; and • constantly threatening to go to a double-dissolution every time the Senate proposes sensible

amendments to the Government's legislation."

"This is a Government that is determined to get its way no matter what and it not interested in compromise," Senator Bollcus said. "And in the process it is seeking to suppress the avenues that Australians have to be critical of the Government and the decisions it takes."

"This approach is completely undemocratic and unacceptable. Australians do not want a dictatorial Government or bureaucracy. The Australian Labor Party will stand up for the rights of ordinary Australians by opposing these dangerous proposals."

Contact: Simon Banks Ph: (06) 277 3388 (bh) or 0419 63 85 87 (m) Fax: (06) 277 3062