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Tuesday, 15 March 2005
Page: 91

Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (6:40 PM) —Consistent with the government’s approach to improving the capacity of the tribunal to manage its workload, of course the bill does remove the requirement in relation to the multipanels that Senator Greig has mentioned. Senator Greig is wanting to retain the requirement that a presidential member should be part of a tribunal considering character, criminal deportation or refugee character decisions. Under the government proposals the president will decide the make-up of the tribunal for particular matters. We believe the president should have that discretion. The president will of course be a Federal Court judge. The bill does insert factors relevant to the review of character, criminal deportation or refugee character decisions as matters that the president must have regard to. These factors, we believe, will ensure that the tribunal is constituted appropriately and will provide that guidance to the president—again, they must be a Federal Court judge.

The government does not believe that its proposals will result in an increase in challenges to the president’s constitution of the tribunal and thereby further delays. The constitution of the tribunal should be on the basis of the needs of the case at hand rather than the status of the member. Again, I stress that what the government proposes is a more flexible approach to the tribunal. I indicated that at the outset in the closure of the second reading debate. For those reasons, the government will not be supporting this proposal by the Democrats.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Moore)—The question is that item 226 of schedule 1 stand as printed.

Question agreed to.