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Thursday, 31 August 2000
Page: 17058

Senator MURRAY (11:31 AM) —I rise to speak on the same point about the minister's discretion. Minister, we are bringing your attention here to the problem that the discretion is too broad and the safeguards are too limited. Without specific consent from a state police commissioner, a state premier, his or her cabinet and a state leader of the opposition, we are left in a position under this bill of having to accept the `trust us' line. I think your problem is that you are seeing it from the perspective of the current government. Whilst it may be appropriate to have a `trust us' line for the current government or the Labor opposition, neither the current government nor the Labor opposition can foresee what kind of government and what kind of opposition we will have in the future. It might well be that you would act properly as a government, even despite the extraordinary discretion given to you by this bill. It might well be that the Labor opposition, if they obtained government, would also behave in that same way. But you cannot guarantee to us the nature, form, manner or morals of a future government or a future opposition in this country.

The discretion you are permitting to go through with this bill—the lack of consent, the lack of safeguards—can potentially put us in dire peril, as it has in other countries in the world which have been given such discretions and authorities. It is an act of extreme naivety to believe that Australia can be protected from the evils and bad morals in government that have afflicted other countries. That is what we are arguing. We have consistently said that there is absolutely no problem with having a narrowly defined bill, specifically one that deals with terrorism and other issues of national emergency, but the discretions here are too wide and there are limited safeguards. Minister, it is true, is it not, that consent is not required? Consultation in the hands of a government of bad faith could simply represent the telling of that government as to what you are going to do because consultation is not defined and consent is absent from the bill.