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Individual Liberties



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'flUi FEDERAL PRESIDENT:

MR. R.J. SOUTHEY, C.M.G. DIRECTOR: MR. B.G. HARTCHER, O.B.E.

Γ Η Ε L I B E R A L P A R T Y O F A U S T R A L I A

MEDIA RELEASE

FEDERAL SECRETARIAT BLACKALL & MACQUARIE STS., BARTON. A.C.T. G.P.O. BOX 13, CANBERRA. A.C.T. 2600 TELEPHONE-73 2564 TELEGRAMS "FEDLIB" CANBERRA

19 December 1973

FROM SENATOR THE HON. IVOR J. GREENWOOD, QC OPPOSITION SPOKESMAN ON ATTORNEY-GENERAL MATTERS.

Individual L iberties

The ro le of the Senate as a watchdog of individual lib erties has become of c ritic a l

im portance since the Labor Government came to power.

Provisions of Bills introduced by the Whitlam Government perm it a rb itra ry and .

far reaching infringements of accepted individual lib e rties. These would have passed

unnoticed but for the vigilance of the L iberal and Country P arty Opposition.

Clauses of the Law Reform Commission B ill would have given power to officials to

probe at large into individual's private affairs and to compel persons to answer

questions and produce documents „ These a re powers which the police forces of the

country do not possess.

On objection being raise d in the Senate the Government withdrew the objectionable

clauses without seeking to defend them.

Incredibly, the sam e provisions appear in the Human Rights B ill and in the R acial

D iscrim ination B ill. The proposed Com m issioners o r his delegated officers a re to

have power to summon persons to provide information, to produce documents and to

answer questions. There is a $1, 000 penalty for non-com pliance.

There a re no ru les for the protection of w itnesses, no rights to legal representation

and no obligation upon the Commission to act fairly.

A person is not excused from furnishing information by reason of the fact that it

might incrim inate him, but any such information provided is inadm issible in

crim inal proceedings. Obviously they a re adm issible in civil proceedings. A

person can be summoned to appear before a m em ber of the C om m issioner's staff,

asked incrim inating questions and then sued in the courts for substantial dam ages.

Such a provision offends individual rights and overrides traditional confidences of

solicito r-clien t, doctor-patient and religious relationships. Provisions of this

| ch aracter requiring persons to answer questions a re not unknown in our law. But

they a re very r a r e .

They should always be justified by the cle a re st case of n ecessity in the public in terest.

I There is no plea of national security, of safety of the revenue, of fraud on the public,

1 to justify these provisions. They a re com pletely out of place in a Human Rights Bill.

BThe L ib eral P arty cannot accept provisions such as th ese. As drafted they challenge

■".he basic protection of individual freedom for which the L iberal P a rty stands. ^ * * * * * * * * * * * *