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Wednesday, 13 November 1974
Page: 2359

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - If I were to rise and respond to what Senator Everett has said and say that the viewpoint that he expressed was a viewpoint consistent with support for communist aggression against people who wanted to lead a life of freedom, it would invoke the catcalls and the noise which I am now getting from Government senators, because that is the way in which they respond. Yet I rise just to deny- because I will deny it every time the sort of abuse in which Government senators engage is presented- that I am guilty of reactionary oppression against the less privileged members of the community. Those were Senator Everett's words, and I refute them. All I am concerned to assert is that the law is the protector of everybody in this communitywhether that person is wealthy or a large corporation, or whether he is a poor individual who happens to be an Aboriginal. We will not have the sure protection which the law can afford unless the law is enforced evenly and fairly where breaches of the law occur, and unless it is enforced irrespective of the wealth, station or colour of the person who is alleged to have been guilty of a breach of the law. I will argue that proposition in this place and out of this place for so long as it is contested.

It is contested by the Government tonight because I have raised for the Attorney-General's answer- he has refused to give any answer- the question why it is that no action has been taken. Senator Wood has raised the question, too, but the Attorney-General has not deigned to reply. The question still remains- I think that there is an increasing number of people in Australia, and an overwhelming number of" people in the Australian Capital Territory who want to knowwhy no action is taken. There is not a person on the Government side who is prepared to give any answer as to why no action is taken. There is a law which says that you shall not put tents in front of Parliament House. There is a law which says that a police inspector can ask the person in apparent occupation to remove the tents, and that if there is no person in apparent occupation the police inspector can remove the structure himself. Why has not the police inspector taken action?

The Attorney-General is the political head responsible for the operations of the Australian

Capital Territory police force, and I believe it is incumbent upon him to give an explanation. Why has he not given an explanation? Is it because he has not gone one? All I have heard is the sort of diatribe that I have listened to from Senator Everett, which is personal in its impact. I have heard from Senator Murphy that, after all, in our society laws are enforced too much against big people and not against little people. I think it was Senator Gietzelt who suggested that I was interested only in attacking a certain class- an allegation which I categorically deny. The basic point is the one which I have made, and I ask the Attorney-General to respond. In case he does not respond- because he said earlier that he would not speak again- I will move to another line in the estimates. If the Attorney-General indicates to me that he will respond to what I have just said, I will sit down to allow him to do so. But I note that he is not indicating that he wants to respond, so I will move to another line in the estimates for the Attorney-General's Department relating to the Australian Legal Aid Office.

Senator McLaren - What is the line you have been talking to?

Senator GREENWOOD - I told honourable senators before. It was division 144 which relates to the Australian Capital Territory Police Force. For the purists on the Government side, the Australian Legal Aid Office is dealt with in division 131.I speak to that division because there is an appropriation of expenditure of some $12m, although only 2 years ago the appropriation was less than $230,000. In the space of 2 years the Government is expending a sum in excess of $ 12m on the Australian Legal Aid Office, and I believe that the pattern of that expenditure is marked by waste, inefficiency and duplication. That is the view of Estimates Committee A. That Committee believes that there is a need for a thorough-going Government sponsored inquiry, with a view to ascertaining whether there cannot be some reforms, because of the duplication which exists with regard to the provision of Australian legal aid.

Consideration interrupted.

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