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AusCheck Bill 2007
Senate committee
Thursday, 1 March 2007
AusCheck Bill 2007

CHAIR (Senator Payne) —Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am sorry about the slight delay in commencing. The committee was referred another bill today so we were just trying to sort that out. It is never easy.

This is the hearing for the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs inquiry into the provisions of the AusCheck Bill 2006. The inquiry was referred to the committee by the Senate on 8 February 2007 for report by 14 March 2007. The bill proposes a regulatory framework for coordinating and conducting centralised background criminal and security checking by the Attorney-General’s Department of applicants for the aviation security identity card and the maritime security identity card and any subsequent schemes. The committee has received 19 submissions to this inquiry. All of those submissions have been authorised for publication and are available on the committee’s website.

I remind all witnesses that, in giving evidence to the committee, they are protected by parliamentary privilege. It is unlawful for anyone to threaten or disadvantage a witness on account of evidence given to a committee, and such action may be treated by the Senate as a contempt. It is also a contempt to give false or misleading evidence to a committee.

The committee prefers all evidence to be given in public but, under the Senate’s resolutions, witnesses do have the right to request to be heard in private session. It is important that witnesses give the committee notice if they intend to ask to give evidence in camera. If a witness objects to answering a question, the witness should state the ground upon which the objection is taken and the committee will determine whether it will insist on an answer, having regard to the ground which is claimed. If the committee determines to insist on an answer the witness may request that that answer be given in camera. Such a request may also be made at any other time.

[4.39 pm]