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Thursday, 31 August 2000
Page: 17065


Senator BROWN (12:15 PM) —I will show equal discipline. I am going to come back to Senator Bourne's amendment in a moment, but I want to respond to what Senator Faulkner had to say. The key point he was making is that the opposition wants to ensure that the Australian Defence Force will never be used against peaceful protest or industrial action. If you are going to achieve that aim, that is what you write into legislation. That is why the Labor Party should be supporting the Greens amendment. Let me read how the Greens amendment fulfils that aspiration. The Greens amendment says the ADF can be deployed:

Provided always that the Defence Force shall not be called out or utilized in connexion with an industrial dispute.

A further amendment says:

And further provided always that the Defence Force shall not be called out against people who are engaging in peaceful protest or civil disobedience.

That is exactly what Senator Faulkner says the opposition is setting out to do. If the opposition has those aims in mind, it should support the Greens amendments. It should not be using the weasel words that are in the ALP amendment which says the ADF can be used in civil situations, protests or strikes but not to `stop or restrict any protest, dissent, assembly or industrial action, except where there is a reasonable likelihood of the death of, or serious injury to, persons'. I submit to the chamber that that covers many, if not most, of the great protests and strikes of the last century. It could be in the minds of an antipathetic government here in Canberra that that situation is likely to lead to serious injury or death. Many situations in civil life present that predicament. Many workplaces present that predicament. Travelling to and from work presents that predicament for all of us. It leaves the field open to the misdirected but imaginative mind of a future set of ministers in a government which is not behaving well, as Senator Murray said in other words. And we should be covering that situation.

I put to the opposition that, if its aim is indeed, as Senator Faulkner said, to improve this legislation—and it will accept significant improvements—and the aim is to ensure that the Australian Defence Force will never be used against peaceful protest or industrial action when that time comes, that is exactly what my amendments for the Greens do. They are quite explicit: there are no ill-defined words; they are quite clear. They say exactly what Senator Faulkner says the opposition wants to achieve, and therefore they should be supported. I support Senator Bourne's amendment.

Amendment not agreed to.