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Thursday, 5 April 1984
Page: 1258

Senator MacGIBBON(12.11) -I will only take a minute of the Senate' s time to say that I am appalled at the ignorance of the Australian Democrats in denying the right of Senator Lewis to put his part in what is a most important motion. We have had many examples from the Democrats that they do not understand they have been conned by the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans). There would be very few people whom the Attorney-General could con in this place, but the Democrats seem to have been. At present the Senate is considering a very important issue. That is why Senator Lewis is so urgently seeking to be heard on the matter, which is his right.

I remember the time when I first became a member of the Senate. At that time the Liberal Party of Australia and the National Country Party of Australia had a majority in the Senate; they had the numbers to say what went in this chamber. After I had been bored to tedium beyond expression by a member of the Australian Labor Party talking about something, I said to one of my colleagues in the Liberal Party who was sitting beside me: 'Isn't it time we moved to close off the debate?' and he replied: 'I have been here for a long time, and it is the right of everyone in the Senate to be heard. It is not a senator's right to be agreed with but it is a senator's right to be heard'. The Democrats have never learned that. I never expected the Labor Party, with its totalitarian, jack- booted approach to socialism to have those ethics, but I thought the Democrats, with their talk about fairness and justice in the community, might recognise the fundamental right of a senator to be heard in this chamber. It would be more appropriate if they were down in the House of Representatives, because they have that sort of mentality.

The reason Senator Lewis must be heard is that there are no barriers under this Attorney-General's regulations to the importation of hard core pornography other than child pornography and publications which incite terrorism and publication containing extreme violence and/or sexual violence.

Senator Gareth Evans —Not extreme. The law has been changed-last night.

Senator MacGIBBON —My apologies. We will leave out 'extreme'; we are just fooling with words. It really has no relevance to the subject before us, which is the importance of hearing Senator Lewis. The only buttress we have against this apparently is the judgment of the Attorney-General, a judgment that is so bad that his own Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) is publicly ridiculing him before meetings in this country; the judgment of a man who, it is rumoured, will be shortly removed and replaced by another Attorney-General, a man who, when Senator Reid pointed out that Canberra has brothels and that brothels are against the law, interjected: 'I haven't had enough complaints'.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator MacGibbon, you are getting rather wide of the point of why this debate should continue. Come back to the issue please.

Senator MacGIBBON —Mr Deputy President, I take your point. The urgency of hearing Senator Lewis's case is that we have to rely on the judgment of this man , the highest law officer in the country, whose basic approach to law is that it is not what the law says that is the determinant of action, but the number of protests about the law being broken. On those grounds I state that Senator Lewis should be heard.