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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 7863

Senator NETTLE (12:19 PM) —I rise to indicate that the Australian Greens will be supporting this amendment. We have already had a lot of debate about who should be an appropriate prescribed authority. We believe that the model put forward by the opposition is an improvement on the existing model, for a range of reasons. Constitutionality, which we talked about previously, is one—trying to make a distinction between those people who are prescribed and issuing authorities and the executive of the government, and trying to further differentiate between those two groups to minimise the impact and opportunity for influence of the executive government upon those people who are employees of the government making these decisions, such as the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. I recognise that this model is not as solid on that aspect as the previous model put up by the opposition, but I recognise and acknowledge what Senator Faulkner has said about trying to increase the number of people who could act as prescribed authorities.

I am wary of the arguments that the government initially put forward to say that we did not have enough retired judges to fulfil this role. As I said previously, the reason that I am wary of this argument is that, during the committee process, we heard from Dennis Richardson that this legislation would have been used two or three times if it had been in place since September 11. Premising an argument, as we saw the government do previously in relation to the opposition's regime, on the basis that there would not be enough retired judges to fulfil this role indicates that perhaps the government is assuming this legislation would be used more frequently than the Director-General of ASIO indicated in the committee process that it would be used.

So we are in a position to be able to support this amendment but we are wary of the premise put forward by the government, which has been responded to by the opposition with this amendment, that there simply are not enough judges to fulfil this role. Given the reason that we are wary, we hope that that is not an indication that the government intends this legislation to be used more frequently than the Director-General of ASIO indicated during the committee process.