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Tuesday, 23 May 1972
Page: 1914

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) - It is curious that the rights of the people should be raised in these primary industry Bills. We have had raised the experience in regard to the powers of arrest, the averment provisions and now the limitation upon prosecution. Originally, the power of entry without warrant was an alarming provision that would not be permitted in other areas. We were successful in having those provisions amended so that now a warrant is required. We think that the provisions in regard to averment represent an encroachment upon the rights of citizens who are affected by them. We have not been successful in having them changed. In regard to prosecutions, the Bills originally - some of the Acts still contain this - provided that a prosecution could commence at any time. These are mere summary prosecutions.

The general law of the Commonwealth as laid down in the Crimes Act is more severe in itself than the general provisions contained in the Justices Acts of the States, which provide a general limitation of 6 months for prosecution on any summary matter. The Commonwealth has a general limitation set out in the Crimes Act that where no other provision is made the time limit will be 12 months. This applies to a multitude of offences under Commonwealth law. The whole generality of offences is covered by this 12-month limitation. All the reasons for rejection of the amendment which the Minister advanced applied to these various other matters. Why should the producers and the people affected be singled out in this way? Originally, there was no time limit; finally, we have brought it down to 3 years. That does not satisfy the Opposition because it is concerned about the principle. If there ought to be a general limitation of 12 months, that ought to apply to everybody.

The Government would not satisfy us if it made the period 15 months. What the Opposition wants is the rule of law running through these matters. There should be the same limitation. That is why we are taking this attitude. I want the Minister for Air (Senator Drake-Brockman) to understand it.

Further, if the general limitation for summary Federal offences were 6 months we would not be satisfied if the time limit in this case were 12 months. We would say that there should be the same general limitation. The considerations which the Minister has advanced could be advanced in regard to these various other matters. This is why we are not prepared to accept the position. We will pursue our view until we obtain satisfaction.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Cavanagh's amendment) be left out.

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