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Thursday, 8 December 1983
Page: 3487


Senator WALTERS(12.01) —I move:

Proposed new clause 28A, proposed Forms 1, 2 and 3, leave out 'To enable the Commonwealth and States to refer powers to each other by mutual agreement.' ( wherever occurring), insert 'To enable the Commonwealth and States unilaterally to refer powers to each other.'.

My amendment seeks to change the Government's description of the interchange of powers. The wording that the Government proposes to use on the ballot paper is:

INTERCHANGE OF POWERS: To enable the Commonwealth and States to refer powers to each other by mutual agreement.

That is completely inaccurate. There is nothing in the Bill that says a State must agree before the Commonwealth refers powers to it. There is nothing in the Bill that says the Commonwealth must agree before a State refers powers to it. That wording is a complete distortion of the Bill. It is not accurate.

I have already discussed this matter with the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) who has told me that I am right, that technically I am correct, but that in practice, of course, that would not happen. I do not believe that the Attorney is such an oracle that he is able to say what will happen in future. We cannot describe what is in a Bill on the basis of what the Attorney thinks will or should happen. As has already agreed that the words 'mutual agreement' are not technically right, my amendment seeks to substitute the following words: 'To enable the Commonwealth and States unilaterally to refer powers to each other'. I would like the Attorney to take note of the length of time I have spoken on this amendment.