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Thursday, 8 December 1983
Page: 3519

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE(3.12) —The wording of this question is no different from the wording of the other questions, in that it is thoroughly misleading. Nobody in a booth, preparing to cast a vote and reading this, could reasonably understand its ramifications. It does not give any indication that it refers to proposed laws. It gives the impression very clearly that such a power already exists and that the purpose is simply to make exercising it easier. The power is not there.

Senator Gareth Evans —There is a power to seek declaratory judgments.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —If the Government is satisfied with declaratory judgments, why does it need advisory opinions?

Senator Gareth Evans —It needs to be done more easily.

Senator CRICHTON-BROWNE —It is a different and stronger power, a power that the Government at present does not have. So it is not making easier, or facilitating , what is already available; it is not available, it is a new proposition. The langugage proposed gives no one an indication that the High Court of Australia will be sitting in judgment on legislation passed by the Parliament prior to that legislation being proclaimed. Nobody with average intelligence, reading the proposal, could be drawn to the conclusion that that is what is intended. As I said earlier in the day, the Government's contention is that we should not have the long title because it could be misleading, confusing and in many cases would not indicate the real intent. It is my view that the Government's proposed wording gives even less indication, is more misleading and is more likely to attract a Yes vote. It is certainly a mischievous way of putting questions and is distorting them which, it has been the argument of the Government all the way through, should not occur. The proposition, as it would be amended by Senator Harradine, would much more accurately reflect the intentions of the Government on this proposal.

Amendment negatived.