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Wednesday, 7 December 1983
Page: 3411


Senator DURACK(4.45) —I have circulated a second amendment to clause 3 which reads:

(2) Page 3, Clause 3, proposed new sub-section 7A (11), lines 34 and 35, leave out the proposed sub-section.

The proposed sub-section reads:

(11) Subject to the Constitution, a decision of the Attorney-General under this section is not subject to review by any court or other tribunal.

I am really in two minds whether to proceed with my second amendment. I can see some reasons for having this particular provision. Normally, one would be very concerned indeed about such a provision. I hope this chamber will take very strong exception to a clause of this kind which would mean that the Attorney- General would not be subject to ordinary judicial review in relation to a decision made by him. I can see that there are some special reasons. Because of the very confidential nature of the information about which the Attorney-General makes the decision, it would be hard to see how any judicial review could possibly be commenced, because anybody who would be aggrieved would not even know of the decision until after it had been made and carried out. There is, of course, a parliamentary means of reviewing the Attorney-General's decision, as we have already passed an amendment to a clause in the Bill which puts the widest possible obligation on the Attorney-General to inform the Parliament of what he has done or not done.

I am disturbed about any clause of this kind appearing in legislation in this day and age. We have developed major initiatives in this Parliament in recent years on a bipartisan basis to expand greatly the rights of the citizen. Aggrieved people who have grievances against administrative decisions affecting them have the right to have those decisions reviewed either on their merits or by a court if such decisions are alleged to be contrary to law. I do not think that there should be ever inserted into any legislation now or in the future, in view of the great pioneering work that has been done in this Parliament in recent years on a bipartisan basis, any provision which would diminish or derogate those principles without the matter being properly explained to this chamber. Therefore, although I am prepared to move the amendment, if the Minister at the table can give me some good reason for that provision being contained in this legislation, I will not proceed with it.