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Thursday, 2 September 1993
Page: 875

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs) (11.12 a.m.) —I will need to check with the Attorney-General (Mr Lavarch) the precise sequence of events in this respect because I have no direct personal knowledge of it. In short, my understanding of the situation is that there was no documentary written advice prepared by Mr Rose, or indeed by anybody else, other than the document I have tabled, in the context of the actual drafting of the legislation. When the question of the constitutionality of the bill, as introduced, came in issue, there was certainly quite a sequence of communication between the Attorney-General's office and Mr Rose seeking advice as to the state of play—if Senator Hill is interested in listening—on the various matters that were squarely in the public domain as a result of that bill.

  No doubt there was quite a lot of oral communication. I think there may have been some earlier drafts of the particular Rose opinion that I tabled earlier in the week, but it may or may not be the case that Mr Rose was referring, as preliminary advice, to those earlier drafts, or he may well have been referring to a course of oral communication. In either event, I will seek clarification from the Attorney-General and any further information those opposite may want in this respect.

  I make the point that the matter in issue is, as I described it in debate yesterday, the constitutionality of the bill as it is now before us. There is no mystery about the process by which the bill was prepared and the advice that was taken into account while it was being prepared. No doubt the committee will have ample opportunities to explore that.