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Wednesday, 8 December 2004
Page: 39

Senator IAN CAMPBELL (Minister for the Environment and Heritage) (12:26 PM) —My advice is that the common-law interpretation is that it has to be provided in a timely manner. I think it would depend on the circumstances whether that was a month, six weeks, six months or a year. The legal advice which we took in relation to this issue was that, where there is a statutory requirement for disclosure, there is a common-law understanding of what a timely manner means.

I think Senator Murphy would have shared my experience in this place that quite often when we do put time limits on things, particularly if there is no penalty for noncompliance, it tends to be public and political pressure that comes to bear on an organisation that fails to lodge or disclose something on time. Unless you can build in a penalty for nondisclosure within a certain statutory time frame, they are more often ignored than observed. It is the public pressure that gets brought onto the organisation. It is fair to say that people like Mr Matthews and the sorts of experts we are putting on the panel would be very keen to comply with the statutory obligation, which we are going to place on them when this legislation passes, to make that disclosure.