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Thursday, 15 August 1974
Page: 1005

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - I move:

In sub-clause (4) leave out the words: 'and (b) shall not be instituted except with the consent in writing of the AttorneyGeneral or of a person authorised by the Attorney-General, by writing under his hand, to give such consents.'

Those words appear in the Bill as one of the ingredients of the prosecution provision. Proceedings are not to be taken in the court unless the Attorney-General has consented to their being taken. I do not know what attitude Senator Murphy takes to these provisions, but I think they are provisions which, in form, are quite wrong. I believe that there is a general power inherent in the law officer under which, if proceedings are instituted, he can enter his nolle prosequi and those proceedings are not further continued. If that course is followed then I believe that it is incumbent upon the law officer to give the reasons why the proceedings are not followed. I think that this provision in a statuteand there are not many statutes in which this provision exists- ought to be removed as often as it comes before the Parliament. I recall that in the late 1950s the former Lord Chancellor, Lord Dilhorne gave to the House of Commons, when he was a member of that House, a very strong recommendation that the processes of the law are interfered with if the law officer, who is also a political head, is able to decide whether or not particular prosecuting proceedings should be continued. I think that the situation is bad in any area. I know that it has been the general position which has grown up over the years, and I think it ought to be discontinued. I do not know how the Attorney-General treats these provisions, but I invite his consideration of the fact that anything which conduces to selective law enforcement is bad.

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