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Friday, 2 March 1984
Page: 317


Senator PETER RAE(12.04) —I am amazed that neither the Minister for Industry and Commerce (Senator Button) nor Senator Mason can see the difference between the facilitation of proper laws against dumping and assuring the right of privacy of individuals. We are simply saying that a prima facie case should be made out to a magistrate or a judge, as it would have to be made out in relation to aspects of the criminal law, before one could get the right to go into somebody's premises and look at the books and do whatever else one would wish. Those books may be in the home of an individual or they maybe in some other person's premises-for instance, the premises of an accountant.


Senator Macklin —A prima facie case on what?


Senator PETER RAE —Firstly, that a dumping investigation is under way; secondly, that books in the possession of somebody or another are relevant to that dumping case. That is all one would need to do. But what it does is stop a nosey customs officer, if such a creature exists. I do not suggest that there are such officers but I think we must legislate on the basis that human nature has, in the past, thrown up some examples of people who do not always behave completely rationally, properly and with due consideration for the interests of other people-making a totally unauthorised wide sweep investigation.

If honourable senators just think back to a month or two ago and about the Sheraton Hotel in Melbourne, it will bring to their minds fairly quickly a concern that officers given authority sometimes behave in a way which the general public would not regard as entirely reasonable and responsible. I would not like my accountant's home to be entered at 9 o'clock on Sunday morning because some Customs officer though that some document of mine in relation to some imported goods happened to be in my accountant's home that weekend or he just thought it would be interesting to go and see whether the pool had water in it. That is the sort of thing I am talking about. I really am amazed that Senator Mason confuses the situation. I am extremely disappointed that this Government, which made such a point of it some years ago, is not now prepared to support the assurance of the right to privacy about which Senator Evans spoke on 28 February 1984 when he said--


Senator Jack Evans —Which Senator Evans?


Senator PETER RAE —Senator Gareth Evans. I am very conscious of the problem of identification. Senator Gareth Evans said:

The most worrying aspect of this whole matter is, I believe, the massive illegality and invasion of privacy which appears to have been involved . . .

If we cannot preserve the reasonable privacy of people I believe we have not earned the right to be legislators.


Senator Hill —Very moderate, cautious and reasonable.


Senator PETER RAE —As Senator Hill has interjected, it is a very moderate, cautious and reasonable amendment which has a tremendous bulk of precedent behind it. All those who would oppose it can say is that on one occasion in recent years we apparently did not notice a similar amendment being put through to facilitate the work of bureaucrats. Not only will I move this amendment but also I will move an amendment whenever I get the opportunity to section 214A to provide the same requirement. I thank those honourable senator's who have drawn my attention to the fact that it has slipped through. I think it justifies the existence of the Senate Standing Committee for the Scrutiny of Bills. I hope the Senate makes a practice-I attempt to-of looking at the Scrutiny of Bills Committee reports to see whether these sorts of things are taking place and on any occasion where a right of entry and search without warrant is being given--


Senator Macklin —Will you do it when you are in government?


Senator PETER RAE —I will do it at any time I get the opportunity. I can only go back to my record, which is that I crossed the floor on a number of occasions to ensure that amendments were carried to legislation of the then Government. As Senator Reg Withers has already said, a number of us crossed the floor. I do not think honourable senators can accuse us of lack of bona fides.


Senator Button —You must have been asleep on a few occasions.


Senator PETER RAE —Senator Button says we may have been asleep on a few occasions. If so, I can only apologise to the people of Australia that some slipped through, but we will try to correct it. As soon as we are back in government we will certainly correct it.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Peter Rae's amendment) be left out.