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Tuesday, 14 December 1993
Page: 4555

Senator CRANE (8.52 p.m.) —My only point with regard to that is that we will wait and see. I now move to clause 40, which deals with restriction on certain actions in tort. Once again, I think it is absolutely incomprehensible that we are giving privilege to a group of people in law. We are going to allow them to be immune from legal action for a time because they happen to be involved with the trade union movement. Nobody else in society gets this privilege. Once again, it is total discrimination.

  I must say—I will keep on repeating this—that the Democrats argue strongly against discrimination on the one hand, yet, with this government, they will be a party to providing the most irresponsible form of discrimination that one could possibly anticipate. Clause 40 probably is the worst of the worst in that sense. It discriminates in favour of a group of people by making them immune from legal action and from the laws that everybody else has to obey. Senator McGauran has to obey those laws, as does Senator Hill and Senator Panizza. Even Senator Bell has to obey those laws, yet he is going to vote for them. Senator McMullan also has to obey them.

  The government is creating a situation where a privileged group of people will be given immunity for a time against breaking the law. It is incomprehensible. I do not know, but I do not believe they would have done this in Russia. They had more sense. They did not have to serve particular masters. Actions such as this in relation to tort action really make the mind boggle.

  We on this side of the chamber absolutely and totally reject this aspect of the bill. We think that a great wrong is being put in place. The law should at least attempt to deal equally with Australians. This legislation will blatantly favour a privileged group.