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Thursday, 18 November 1976
Page: 2914

Dr KLUGMAN (Prospect) - I shall ask a couple of questions of the Attorney-General (Mr Ellicott) because I am in the same position as nearly everybody else in the House. We have been handed the Foreign Proceedings (Prohibition of Certain Evidence) Bill which gives quite sweeping powers, apparently, to the AttorneyGeneral without giving any real explanation. I refer to clause 4 ( 1 ) (a) which states: 4.(1) The Attorney-General shall exercise his powers under this Act. . . where he is satisfied that-

(a)   a foreign tribunal is exercising or proposing or likely to exercise jurisdiction or powers of a kind or in a manner not consistent with international law . . .

Who will make a decision as to whether the jurisdiction is exercised in a manner not consistent with international law? A more important provision is clause 4(2) which, in effect, puts the Attorney-General beyond any challenge in any court. I do not believe that that ought to be possible. I hope that courts will rule clause 4 (2) out of order, if my interpretation of the clause is correct. I remind the House that it reads:

The validity of any exercise, or refusal of the exercise, of any power of the Attorney-General under this Act is not affected by, and shall not be subject to challenge in any court by reason of, any failure to comply with the provisions of this section.

We are told that the Attorney-General will do only certain things and that we ought to accept them because he will do them only under a particular section. Then we are told that his action cannot be challenged because it is beyond the power of that clause. As I understand it the Attorney-General can do almost anything because he cannot be challenged on that point. I would like to get some explanation. After all, the Attorney-General in his speech, if I remember correctly, referred to certain proceedings being taken in the New South Wales Supreme Court on 2 1 October. That is nearly a month ago. Why rush this Bill through tonight? If it is as important as all that, surely the Attorney-General can make an application in the New South Wales Supreme

Court, if the matter comes up next week, to have a stay of proceedings. I am sure it would be granted if the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth intervened. I would like to get some explanations which have not come out about the Attorney-General being able to exercise this power without having any restriction imposed on him by any court of this country.

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