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Thursday, 22 August 1985
Page: 215

Senator PETER RAE(8.23) —I wish to express my very great regret that someone for whom I have had a considerable respect for a very long period should have fallen into a situation of what I can only regard as entrapment. I understand that Dame Roma Mitchell acted on advice which was not as accurate as it might have been. I believe that Dame Roma Mitchell is a person of great concern who has endeavoured to do a genuine job in an area of importance in this country. It was of even more importance in other countries; this country was to give a lead. She became entrapped in a situation as a result of some faulty advice, I believe, which was given to her. She became engaged in something which held up to ridicule and contempt the Human Rights Commission in this country. What this did was to deny the very thing that the Commission is supposed to exist for.

Senator Giles —I think thou protesteth too much.

Senator PETER RAE —Without going into the details, what it did was to deny the right of examination and of consideration. I do not want to go into the detail of what happened. I do not want to make a political argument about the matter. I wish to express my regret that what happened happened in the way that it did. I had a very pleasant brunch with Dame Roma Mitchell after she opened and was the principal speaker at the Tasmanian College of Advanced Education, since renamed, on a Sunday morning. I talked to her about these issues. I was amazed to find that shortly thereafter the decision was taken to which reference has been made. I simply take the opportunity to make an earnest plea. I hope that the Human Rights Commission, under Dame Roma Mitchell, will show that it has some regard for human rights, including the particular one to which reference has been made. If it does not do that I think it will have disqualified itself from having the credibility which it ought to have in Australia.