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Constitutional Commission attempts to censor Coalition



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FEDERAL LIBERAL MEMBER F#R FLINDERS SHADOW ATTORNEY - GENERAL j LO?/ii.;oMv/£ALTH 1 parliamentary library I

CONSTITUTIONAL COMMISSION ATTEMPTS TO cIeNSOITTOXLTTTON

The Shadow Attorney-General, Mr Peter Reith, MP, has condemned attempts by the Constitutional Commission to prevent the Opposition having equal access to the Commission's mailing list.

In December 1987 the Attorney-General, Mr Bowen, MP, said he had no problems with Mr Reith having access to the mailing list and indicated the Commission would "co-operate” with such a request.

The Opposition's request for equal access to the mailing list was made following a decision by the Commission to allow its list to be used for commercial purposes.

The Opposition's request was effectively denied when the Commission imposed the condition that all material would have to be first censored by Commission staff. In particular, the Commission made it clear that any Opposition criticism of the

motives of the Government in promoting constitutional reform would be "inappropriate".

To press the request, an FOI application was lodged. When the Commission failed to make any decision within the time prescribed by law, an appeal against the deemed refusal was lodged. That appeal will be heard on Friday 27 May 1988 before the

Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Canberra.

The Commission is now whipping up a campaign against the Opposition. It is not concerned to await the Tribunal's decision but instead it has written a misleading letter to the 40,000 people on its mailing list. The Commission's letter

fails to point out that the purpose of Mr. Reith's request was merely to ensure that recipients received not only the substance of Labor's YES case but also the details of the NO case.

"I am not concerned to have the personal details of anybody on the Commission's list. I just want to make sure that people receive material from both sides in the debate.

It is wrong for a Government body, funded by taxpayers, to try and censor the Opposition's case."

Labor's referendum questions are misleading, the Attorney-General has refused to give an assurance that both sides of the case will be equally funded and Labor's Constitutional Commission is trying to stop a fair debate.

This is not the way to run a referendum and the Commission should stop its partisan attack on the Opposition.

May 1988

I MEDIA RELEASE