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Letter to Robert Meadows, President of Law Council of Australia



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Minister for Justice Senator the Hon. Michael Tate Senator for Tasmania

- 8 OCT 1992

Mr Robert Meadows President Law Council of Australia 19 Torrens Street BRADDON ACT 2601

Dear Mr Meadows

I have read your remarkable media release in which you say, among other things, “ I think it is important to know what the Judge said, as distinct from what he has been reported as saying”.

It is quite evident that you have not applied the injunction to yourself concerning my answer in the Senate.

And for example, you would have noted - had you read the front page of The Australian with any diligence - “Senator Tate told “ The Australian " there was no need for a shift to a United States system of politically vetting judges."

In fact I have vigorously and consistently rejected any suggestion that Australia should descend to the demeaning debacle of the type seen in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearing before the US Senate Judiciary Committee.

And where did you get the idea of “Senator Tate ... being upset by the Court’s decision against the political advertising ban imposed by the Government”. I have never attacked the Court’s decision and in fact well grasped the fundamental principle underlying the decision: That a right to communicate political views freely could be implied from the system of representative government created under the Constitution.

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MIC AH

G.P.O. Box I006K, Hobart, Tasmania 7001 Tel. (002) 34 9100 Fax (002) 23 3055 7th Floor, Marine Board Building, 1 Franklin Wharf, Hobart, Tasmania 7000

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l a t e 2 0 t h c e n t u r y r e g a r d a s i m p o r t a n t .

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p r a c t i s e o u r r e l i g i o n f r e e l y , t h e r i g h t t o c o n s c i e n t i o u s l y o b j e c t t o a

p a r t i c u l a r w a r : t o n a m e o n l y a f e w o f t h o s e r i g h t s w h i c h w e w o u l d

r e g a r d a s a n e s s e n t i a l p a r t o f o u r l i f e i n a c i v i l i s e d d e m o c r a c y .

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a c k n o w l e d g m e n t o f t h e H i g h C o u r t ’ s r o l e i n t h e C o m m u n i s t P a r t y c a s e

w h e r e i t r i g h t l y o v e r r o d e t h e P a r l i a m e n t i m p r o p e r l y a t t e m p t i n g t o u s e

t h e d e f e n c e p o w e r . T h a t j u d g e m e n t w a s b a s e d o n l i m i t a t i o n s o f

c o n s t i t u t i o n a l p o w e r , a n d t h a t i s t h e p r o p e r b a s i s f o r t h e H i g h C o u r t ’ s

d e c i s i o n .

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k n o w , i n s a y i n g t h a t i t i s “ u n t h i n k a b l e t h a t a p o l i t i c i a n s h o u l d a s s e r t

t h a t P a r l i a m e n t c a n o v e r r i d e . . . a n y o t h e r c o u r t ” . Wh e n n o t s p e a k i n g o f

t h e H i g h C o u r t a n d c o n s t i t u t i o n a l i s s u e s , I d o a s s e r t t h a t e l e m e n t a r y

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C o u n c i l o f A u s t r a l i a s h o u l d t h i n k o t h e r w i s e .

I l o o k f o r w a r d t o t h e L a w C o u n c i l t a k i n g a m o r e c o n s i d e r e d v i e w o f t h e

r e m a r k s l m a d e w h e n t h e C o u n c i l h a s h a d a n o p p o r t u n i t y t o r e f l e c t o n

t h e H a n s a r d e x t r a c t w h i c h I a t t a c h . I t i s q u i t e o b v i o u s t h a t t h e C o u n c i l

h a s n o t h a d t h e b e n e f i t o f s u c h r e f l e c t i o n t o d a t e .

Y o u r s s i n c e r e l y

( Γ H L I l d e i I d i e ;