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Wednesday, 6 June 1984
Page: 2617

Senator BJELKE-PETERSEN —I refer the Attorney-General to the answer he gave Senator Chaney on 30 May when he said that a draft Bill of Rights was being made available to State Attorneys-General and the Law Council of Australia but that the Government is yet to decide on whether to make it fully publicly available. I ask the Attorney-General whether he recalls the following clear undertaking which he gave in a Press release dated 7 July 1983:

The Government was proposing to introduce a Bill of Rights into the Parliament later in the year; the intention was for it to lie on the table for public comment and not be debated until the autumn session of 1984.

Why has the Attorney broken his unqualified promise on making the Bill public? Is it simply because the Government is worried about adverse public reaction in this election year?

Senator GARETH EVANS —No, it is not for any of those reasons; it is because this is a Government that is capable of adapting, with sophistication and maturity, as its individual Ministers increasingly are, to changing circumstances. The situation has changed in a number of ways since July last year. It is a complex piece of legislation which we are contemplating in this area. There are many implications for other governments and departments within our Government which need full exploration and consideration. I am sure that the particular process to which the Bill is being subjected at the moment will make it, as I have said on numberless previous occasions in this place, an even better piece of legislation than it was in its original proposed form.