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Wednesday, 6 June 1984
Page: 2672

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE(8.21) —I am not sure that I heard all that the Attorney-General said. I would have thought that had the Attorney wanted to give the small people, to use the expression he used earlier, the little people and the people who might feel threatened absolute security, he would accept the amendment. If he wants absolutely to satisfy the community and provide absolute certainty that there is no risk of having the only member of the Authority who had the right qualifications chairing a hearing he would fulfil the request of the amendment. I do not know what the Attorney means when he talks about being ill at ease with respect to a member. There is only one way to ensure that anybody who is sitting on a quasi-judicial authority with powers which extend beyond those of any other permanent authority has the capacity and competence to deal with the enormous powers cast upon him; that is, to have somebody who has very significant legal training.

I do not understand the Attorney's fundamental objection to the proposition that has been put. For his part, the Attorney knows better than anybody the significant powers that have been provided to the Authority. I am still waiting for him to tell me why the legislation cannot provide that there shall be somebody with legal qualifications on each hearing. I find it difficult to comprehend his argument, particularly given the definitions of the sorts of people he referred to as being likely to be members and to be unilaterally sitting in judgment and making decisions which will have an enormous impact on individuals. I would have thought that in those circumstances there was an irrefutable case for having somebody with legal qualifications on each hearing, as distinct from his other responsibilities. As I said to Senator Evans once before in this debate, his argument in this respect is not one of the most profound, persuasive, articulate or compelling arguments he has put in the time I have been in the Senate. I would be disappointed if I did not know that deep in his heart he is not giving the real motives to this Senate. I am not satisfied that he has really sought to address himself to the truth of the subject.