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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 7854

Senator HARRIS (11:28 AM) —I rise to indicate that One Nation will support Labor amendment (39). I would like to pick up the issue that Senator Nettle has raised, particularly in relation to proposed section 34U(8). I would like to direct my questioning to the minister, because I believe it is very important that we hear from the minister how he sees this process being carried out. An earlier opposition amendment successfully amended section 34E(3) by replacing `at least once in every 24-hour period' with `at least once in every four-hour period'.

I believe Senator Nettle's question is very important. Does that four-hour period start from when the person is first questioned in the presence of the prescribed authority, or does it only start when subsequently that person has legal representation? This ties in very importantly with opposition's amendment (39) in which subsection (8) states:

The prescribed authority must not refuse to authorise the legal adviser to communicate to a court, for the purposes of seeking a remedy relating to the warrant or the treatment of the subject in connection with the warrant, information relating to the questioning or custody of the subject in connection with the warrant.

The two are very closely related. This subsection of the amendment that we are debating now, if successful, will place a requirement on the prescribed authority that they must not hinder the legal representative's ability to make that application. It is very important to clearly determine when the four-hour period starts. I seek that information from the minister.