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Thursday, 10 May 1984
Page: 1904

Senator MacGIBBON(11.29) —I listened with amazement and incredulity to what the Minister said, because what he said was that because a Labor Minister in a Federal Parliament had reached agreement with two non-Labor governments, the will of the Senate was therefore compromised and neutralised and that a literally illegal act could therefore be made legal by a retrospective clause. A further part of the argument was that I am in some way a representative tied and bound by the Government of my State. I thought that even Senator Gietzelt, who has been here a lot longer than I have, would know that he was elected, as are all of us, by the people of our States and that State governments really have nothing to do with it. I am here as a representative of my State and not of my State government. I think it is perfectly proper that as a representative I take cognisance of and, where possible, aid and abet that State government, whether it is of my political persuasion or whether it is of the opposite persuasion. I have made that position publicly clear in the six years I have been a member of the Senate. I have publicly invited the Government of my own State to contact me and put a point of view that it wished promoted in this Parliament. I think it is a perfectly proper and perfectly ethical position to have. I might say in passing for the record that I have never had an approach from the Premier of my State to help him in any way at all, and I leave that as a matter of public judgment, because I think that senators do have a place in arguing the case for the Government. But that is separate and distinct from their primary purpose here, which is to represent the people of their State, and their interests, in a corporate way, as representatives of that State.

The final point I make about this clause is that is it a retrospective clause, and I have opposed on every occasion that I have been in this Senate any legislation that had a taint of retrospectivity about it. Therefore, on those grounds alone I would be opposing this sub-clause of the Bill.

Clause 2 (2) negatived.

Title agreed to.


The Bill.