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Friday, 19 October 1984
Page: 2049

Senator MACKLIN(10.18) —I am sure the Minister will be very happy that I now move the last two amendments. I move:

18. Page 21, after clause 42, insert the following new clause:

'42A. (1) Any person who lodged a submission in response to an invitation referred to in paragraph 17 (3) (f), 26 (2) (f) or 32 (2) (d) may request a Commissioner to summon that person, or that person's nominee, to appear as a witness before the Commission inquiring into the declaration of target or agent organisms of the kind to which the submission referred.

'(2) Where a Commissioner receives a request under sub-section (1) and does not summon the person making the request, or that person's nominee, to appear as a witness, the Commissioner shall give to the person making the request a notice in writing stating his decision and the reason for it.'.

19. Page 25, after paragraph 56 (1) (h), insert the following new paragraph:

'(ha) a decision by a Commissioner under section 42A not to call a person making a request under sub-section (1) of that section, or that person's nominee ; or'.

These amendments seek to provide a right of review where an expert witness is not called by the commissioner and yet it is felt by those making submissions that such a witness is vital to their case. It is a situation that could cause some difficulty. Again I refer not to the large companies which may be involved; I refer to people in small business who may, in relation to some item, believe that the expert witness, for example, is overseas and that that expert witness ought to be called. If one looks at other parts of the Bill one sees that only witnessess who are actually called by the commissioner will have their expenses paid. Thus, if a witness were not called by the Commissioner, it would be very expensive for anyone to get that person before the commission. It is not likely to occur in many cases. I hazard a guess that in most of the public hearings it will not occur because the Commissioner will be seeking a wide range of views and as much information as possible. It may very well be that there is an expert witness who is not called. We feel there ought to be some review of that possibility. We feel that if that expert witness is not called the people making a submission ought to have the right to go somewhere to rehearse their case and to say that that expert witness should be able to make submissions before the commission.