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Thursday, 12 August 2004
Page: 26398

Senator HARRIS (8:06 PM) —I understand what Senator Hill has conveyed in his answer: the government's position is that they are indemnifying the secretary from any civil proceeding that would result from the issuing of a certificate. If a public servant has done something manifestly wrong—and I am trying to think of an example that would be applicable here—such as agreeing to issue something that is so profoundly against sound science, I could understand somebody mounting a charge, and that what the secretary or a delegate had done was so manifestly wrong that they would lose their statutory immunity. But my understanding is that our public servants, in the duties that they carry out, are protected by statutory immunity. I am absolutely amazed to find that in the proposed amendment the government feel that they need to protect them from civil proceedings of any sort.

If the secretary or a delegate granted a certificate, and some time in the future a drug—for example, thalidomide—was found to have an adverse effect, the public servant would automatically be covered by statutory immunity. Why do we have to write into the act an indemnity against civil proceedings? Is there something in the FTA that, all of a sudden, has the potential to expose our public servants to civil proceedings?