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Thursday, 28 November 1985
Page: 2497

Senator GIETZELT (Minister for Veterans' Affairs)(5.29) —I think the Committee could be in an invidious position in this. I certainly admit that I am, as the Minister, with legal advisers present in the chamber, in a more favourable position than Senator Lewis. I have told the Committee the interpretation my legal officers have placed on Senator Lewis's proposed new sub-clause (9). The fact is that becomes a decision of the Committee. A determination is deemed to have been made after 15 May. I do not think we can throw back that matter without accepting the implications of the proposed amendment. We have to make that decision. Honourable senators will appreciate that the same advice will be given by my officers to Mr Holding, who represents me in the other place. I believe we should resolve the matter here. Senator Macklin made quite a deal of comment about this being a House of review and this being our legislative responsibility. We are either right or wrong in what we are seeking to do. My very strong advice from my legal advisers is that it would have disastrous effects upon all of those people who have been granted their claims since the 14 May statement. To that extent, we have to accept the responsibility for it, and that is a very big responsibility. If, as my senior officers and my legal advisers say, 12,000 people will be affected, I do not think we can throw ourselves upon the tender mercies of the House of Representatives and expect it to have more knowledge on it than we have here.