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Tuesday, 30 November 2004
Page: 82

Senator LUDWIG (5:58 PM) —We are in a position to support those amendments. What they do is define more narrowly the definition of national security. It is one of those issues that now provides a tighter constraint on what the otherwise broad position might have been. We also find that the expression `national security' is included. I was benefited by the report Keeping secrets: the protection of classified and security sensitive information, which the Attorney-General perhaps should have assisted him with in the process but chose not to. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the ICCPR, which is binding on Australia, in article 14.1 includes the words `national security'. I will not read the entire provision, but it states:

The press and the public may be excluded from all or part of a trial for reasons of morals, public order ... or national security in a democratic society, or when the interest of the private lives of the parties so requires, or to the extent strictly necessary in the opinion of the court in special circumstances ...

In addition, in 7.10 it goes on to say:

Article 14(1) applies to both criminal and civil pro-ceedings, and arguably also to administrative proceedings.

However, that is less clear. It goes on to say:

As the ICCPR allows for the closure of courts for national security reasons, it is important that the parameters of the term `national security' are clearly defined.

In this instance, they have been more narrowly and more clearly defined, which allows that provision to operate adequately. Similarly, article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states:

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

At 7.12 it states:

Some Australian legislation expressly provides for open hearings in courts and tribunals.

But of course that is tempered by the requirements that I have just outlined—this is more for the substantive debate that we will have in committee later—that there are circumstances of national security that might require other procedures to be adopted. But, in this instance, I think the tighter definition does give a greater effect to the bill and it provides a firm basis for it.