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Tuesday, 30 May 1989
Page: 3028

Senator ALSTON(6.27) —I make it clear, if I have not done so already, that our position is that we presume good faith. We proceed on the basis that if a situation did arise where a tribunal chose not to order an interpreter where it was clearly necessary, that would probably be the subject of a prerogative writ. In that situation the tribunal would be told in no uncertain terms that it was not to exercise a discretion arbitrarily or against the interests of a person not proficient in English. On that basis, and in view of the precedent of the Social Security Tribunal which does seem to work satisfactorily, we are prepared to leave that discretion there in case unforeseen situations arise in which it may be desirable that one not be simply compelled to order an interpreter. As I say, it is very difficult to spell out the precise circumstances in which such a situation might arise. But I know from my own experience in the courts that it is very desirable to have that discretion. As long as we assume that the tribunal is not going to act in bad faith, then I do not think we will come to too much harm.