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Monday, 20 December 1993
Page: 5241


Senator ALSTON (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) —by leave—Does it boil down to this? Both Senator Evans and I know that there are innumerable precedents for releasing advice when it suits his purposes. He can always claim professional privilege, if necessary, but there is nothing to stop him releasing advice that is helpful to his cause. Governments of both persuasions do that on a regular basis.

  Does it therefore follow that, if he declines to release that portion of the advice that relates to clause 11, we would be perfectly entitled to assume that there is some doubt about the matter? If there is not, what has he got to lose? Everyone knows that, in going to the High Court, the government is going to argue that it is valid, so he is not exactly going to take anyone by surprise if he tables advice saying that it is valid.

  In those circumstances, why would it not be in everyone's interest, including the minister's, to clarify the matter at this stage and not come up with some subsequent document that may well be categorised, by some who are less charitably inclined, as a whitewash?