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Thursday, 8 December 1983
Page: 3518


Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(3.11) —It makes sense to me. The language is 'To enable the Commonwealth, the States and the Northern Territory more easily to obtain from the High Court'-not advisory opinions, which it does not have the power to do at the moment as Senator Harradine points out, but rather 'its views on certain constitutional questions'. That is what it does do. It enables the Commonwealth, the States and the Northern Territory to obtain more easily the views of the High Court. Declaratory proceedings are available at the moment. What is now suggested represents a much easier procedure. I do not accept Senator Harradine's amendment, essentially for the reason that I have explained by way of interjection: It is not language which is comprehensible to the ordinary, average Australian. If Senator Harradine's amendment were to prevail, the heading on the ballot paper would be: '4. ADVISORY JURISDICTION OF HIGH COURT'. That would be followed by the words 'To confer an advisory jurisdiction on the High Court'. So, instead of having just one heap of gobbledegook, which we have at the moment, we would have two. Under the proposed Government form we have what will appear to many people to be the gobbledegook of the short title, but at least it will be followed by concrete language which is apt to describe the procedure here involved and the change involved in it. I commend it to the Committee without further argument.