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Tuesday, 21 December 1993
Page: 5425


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs) (3.45 p.m.) —Senator Alston knows, as I do, that these words mean what they say. The phrase `any other person or body' means that it is entirely within the discretion of the Federal Court as to whose evidence it will receive. It is entirely within its own judgment as to the weight that it chooses to give to that evidence, whatever its form or, as Senator Alston said, its hearsay status or other character. It is in the nature of the discretion that is here vested in the Federal Court and in the nature of the context in which it is deciding that that discretion has deliberately been made very wide.

  These decisions are all appealable. Again, if it were believed by a disappointed applicant or objector that the court was not operating in accordance with proper principles, that it was taking into account manifestly irrelevant points or giving improper weight to evidentiary material that simply could not sustain that weight, that person would have grounds for appeal to higher courts. That is as it should be.