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Wednesday, 1 December 2004
Page: 17

Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (10:47 AM) —The opposition has proposed a new subclause 29(3A) which would bring into the ball game, if you like, what the court can consider in relation to the antecedents of the defence counsel. We have had debate previously in this committee on the vetting process for defence counsel. We believe it is appropriate that all things be canvassed during that vetting process and that that not be extended to the consideration by the court of the length of practice of the practitioner, previous criminal convictions or any adverse findings in disciplinary proceedings. We think the question of security clearance should be dealt with in that vetting process only. I think the extension of this consideration to the court really does blur it somewhat. Whilst that may be a consideration during the vetting process, there are certainly other aspects to be considered. We think it should be considered during the one process rather than having a vetting process and then still having the court take a look at whether this person has any professional blemish on his or her history. For those reasons, the government on balance do not support the amendment proposed by the opposition.

Question agreed to.