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Tuesday, 30 May 1972
Page: 2243

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) (Attorney-General) - I do not rise to what I regard as a personally offensive remark by Senator Murphy that I had been making dishonest allegations. I had not been making dishonest allegations. It may be that the Opposition feels that I have put an interpretation upon its conduct last week to which it would take exception, but I believe that the Opposition's conduct is fairly open to interpretation. I cannot understand how it can be suggested that delaying tactics were not employed when we had Opposition speaker after Opposition speaker getting up and speaking for 50 minutes and virtually repeating what had been said by preceding speakers.

If any dishonesty was involved it would be in the conduct of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) in saying that this Bill is retrospective in its application. Senator Murphy is a lawyer and, as a lawyer, Senator Murphy knows that retrospective legislation is legislation which operates so as to affect vested rights. There are no vested rights under this proposal which is being put forward, and Senator Murphy knows it. If there are any let him point them out. He does not because the situation is that there is no deprivation of existing rights; no action which takes away from organisations rights which they currently have.

When the law becomes operative any requests which have been made or other matters contemplated under section 68 will be preserved, and if no requests have been made then of course nothing is being taken away. Senator Murphy can complain as much as he likes, notwithstanding the explanation which I have given to him, simply to get some publicity in order to create the impression that this provision will be retrospective. I say emphatically it is not, for the simple reason that it does not take away existing rights, and that is the commonly, generally understood meaning of the word 'retrospective'. I challenge anybody to give me any definition of 'retrospective' which takes a different view. Senator Murphy talks about there being a denigration or a deprivation of the rule of law. Coming from the Labor Parly, that is rich. It is a party which in so many cases and in so many instances has indicated that the rule of law is for the Labor Party and something which it will maintain when it suits it. (Opposition senators interjecting) -

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Wood - Order! I ask honourable senators to maintain order. Whilst the Minister is speaking he must be heard, just as Opposition senators will be heard.

Senator Cavanagh - Bring him back to the Bill.

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