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Tuesday, 17 March 1987
Page: 914

Mr GAYLER(4.38) —I wish to comment briefly on the Opposition's amendment to clause 3. I note from the list of Opposition amendments to be moved by the honourable member for North Sydney (Mr Spender) that a majority relate to special federal matters. The definition of `special federal matter' in clause 3 includes matters arising under the provision of the Trade Practices Act 1974, secondly the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977, thirdly the National Crime Authority Act 1984, and fourthly the provisions of section 39b of the Judiciary Act 1903. In fact, the Bill is very much restricted to those pieces of Federal legislation. These matters are at present within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal Court. For example, section 39b of the Judiciary Act relates to matters in which a writ of mandamus or prohibition or an injunction is sought against certain Commonwealth officers.

The Commonwealth regards it as important that certain matters of particular significance to the Commonwealth should be within the specialist jurisdiction of the Federal Court. Notwithstanding that specialist jurisdiction will be conferred on the Federal Court, it is important to distinguish those matters of particular significance to the Commonwealth. I pose the question, which was not mentioned by the honourable member for North Sydney, whether this specialist jurisdiction prejudices the right of litigants. I would suggest it will not. It would certainly not set up any unnecessarily long delays in proceedings. It is important to acknowledge that this clause takes into account the special or particular significance of certain Commonwealth legislation. I conclude by saying that this clause has been introduced after lengthy and detailed consultations between the Commonwealth, the States and the Northern Territory in the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. The result is a balanced and workable scheme. As I pointed out, it is restricted and it takes account of the particular significance of Commonwealth legislation.