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Thursday, 21 August 1980
Page: 643

Mr HODGMAN (Denison) - I am somewhat puzzled by the approach of the Opposition to this legislation. My colleague the honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr N. A. Brown) I think put it very well when he expressed disappointment at the Opposition's lack of enthusiasm in spirit for the legislation, notwithstanding its token support. A lot of the comments made by--

Mr Lionel Bowen - I raise a point of order, Mr Chairman. In fairness to the honourable member for Diamond Valley, I think he expressed those views about the Australian Democrats, not the Opposition.

The CHAIRMAN - There is no point of order.

Mr Lionel Bowen - There is a point of order, if we are going to have to correct the situation all of the time.

Mr HODGMAN - No, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was distracted. He said that the attitude of the Democratic Labor Party to the Bill was that it was boring.

Mr N A Brown (DIAMOND VALLEY, VICTORIA) - The Australian Democrats?

Mr HODGMAN - Yes, the Australian Democrats. He said that that party considered the Bill to be boring. I thought, with respect, that the Opposition gave the Bill the kiss of death. Whilst the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that the

Opposition was supporting it, he spent a considerable amount of time criticising clauses 5 and 7. However, he did not move any amendments in relation to them. Now he has come up with an amendment to a schedule which deals with, of all things, foreign takeovers, the National Labour Consultative Council, and the Banking (Foreign Exchange) Regulations. They are three very interesting subjects for the Australian Labor Party to be showing an interest in.

Mr Lionel Bowen - But we cannot get any interest in them.

Mr HODGMAN - I am very surprised at the rationale of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. I am almost coming to the conclusion that he protesteth too much, that there is some ulterior motive in his wishing to have foreign takeovers subject to judicial scrutiny, and that he has some desire to obtain the advantage of judicial review of confidential information under the Banking (Foreign Exchange) Regulations. Why on earth the Deputy Leader of the Opposition wants to see the decisions of the National Labor Consultative Council subject to judicial review is beyond me, unless he wants to find out what Mr Hawke is saying behind closed doors. That is the only reason I can think of for supporting that proposition.

Mr Lionel Bowen - You will never win Denison doing this.

Mr HODGMAN - The only proposition I can think of is that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is trying to find out what Bob Hawke is saying behind closed doors. There is no other basis that I can find. The National Labour Consultative Council is surely not the sort of body whose decisions the Labor Party genuinely wants to have taken into court to be subject to judicial review. It is a Council whose establishment I thought the Opposition opposed and a Council to which I thought that officially the Opposition did not give very great pre-eminence. Yet we find that the Opposition is seeking to have its decisions reviewed, decisions of employers, trade union leaders, and the Government of this country, taken behind closed doors after decent private discussions, for the settlement of industrial disputes. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition says that we should bring the decisions of the NLCC before a court of law and have them judicially reviewed. I really query the motives behind the Opposition's amendment. I cannot concede that they are a genuine desire to find out the reasons for the decisions. I repeat: One should find out the basis on which Mr Hawke is saying one thing in one place and another thing in another place. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition was a senior Minister of the Whitlam Government from 1972 to 1975 and it was in 1975 that the Foreign Takeovers Act was brought in by a government of which he was a member. If the honourable member thinks that the decisions made under that Act should be subject to a judicial review I have to ask why that was not provided for in the Act itself. What has happened between 1975 and 1980 to change the honourable member's legal assessment of the need for a judicial review of decisions unless it is the fact that he is now in Opposition and we are in government.

My last point refers to that very involved, sensitive and technical area of the banking and foreign exchange regulations. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition as a former senior Minister in the Whitlam Government knows how sensitive these issues are. The very validity, true value and international standing of our currency are at stake. I would have thought that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition as a former senior minister would concede that to drag that information into a court of law might well not be in the national interest. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition knows full well, notwithstanding his statements in relation to section 75 of the Judiciary Act, that the Constitution itself protects in perpetuity the Queen's prerogative writ and that any person in this country aggrieved by any administrative decision and quite independently of this legislation - which the Government has brought in and which the Opposition did not bring in even though it had three years - can go to the highest court of the land on a prerogative writ and seek a judicial determination of the manner in which he had been treated.

Apart from puzzling honourable members on this side as to what the real motives are, will the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and his party state once and for all whether they are in favour of a judicial review of administrative decisions and whether they are prepared to support the liberal principle that the individual citizen has the right to find out why a decision has been made and what the reasons are? Or does the Opposition stand for big government and big bureaucracy, described as long ago as 1927 by Lord Hewart as the growing despotism, in respect of which the citizen can find out nothing? I think this demonstrates the philosophical gap between this side of the House and the Opposition side. The Government stands for the right of the individual. We have established the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. We have appointed a Commonwealth Ombudsman. We have extended the application of the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act because we believe the citizens of this country are entitled to open government, to know what is done about them and why it is done. We believe they should be given the reasons for the decisions. I suggest that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition reveals ulterior motives and I think the whole basis of his brief speech, in relation to the amendments to the Schedule, is that he and other members of the Labor Party want to find out what it really is that Bob Hawke says behind their backs, behind closed doors, at NLCC meetings.

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