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Wednesday, 12 April 1972
Page: 1023

Senator GREENWOOD (VictoriaAttorneyGeneral) - I thank Senator Murphy for his indication on behalf of the Opposition that it concurs in the Government's proposal that this matter be referred to the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs for consideration and report. I listened with interest to what Senator Murphy said. I am not sure whether what has occurred since the Evidence Ordinance was disallowed in 1971 altogether follows the stereotype course which the honourable senator suggested. 1 think it should be recognised that one unresolved problem in al] of this is the length of time which one chamber of the national Parliament should properly give to the evidence law of the Australian Capital Territory. I think it is very proper that if the time is available honourable senators should be able to spend the length of time that wc have spent already on the law of evidence of the Australian Capital Territory, considering whether the people of the Australian Capital Territory should have a modern and progressive body of evidentiary law. On the other hand, it must be recognised that the time that is taken on this prevents the Senate giving time to national matters which really should be the preoccupation of persons who are elected to the national Parliament. This is still one of the unresolved matters.

It is true that the Evidence Ordinance was prepared for the Government by a committee which was composed of experts in the law of evidence. As Senator Wright mentioned earlier, no one person or group of persons is the repository of all wisdom in these matters. In this respect what Senator Murphy has said is true, that when individual senators who displayed an interest applied their minds to the problems they came up with different approaches from those of the body of experts which originally drafted this measure. It may be that after the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs has examined the matter there will be a different approach when the matter next comes back to the Senate. Although this might be described as a somewhat leisurely form of legislation, undoubtedly it is an approach which will ultimately present us with a measure which represents the best which the consensus of the legal minds in the Senate can agree upon.

I thank senator Murphy for his co-operation and also for the co-operation which enables this much debated Ordinance to remain in force in the Australian Capital Territory for a period of 12 months so that we can discuss whether its provisions have to be altered thereafter. With Senator Murphy I trust that the Committee will be able to proceed to its deliberations with dispatch so that the measure can come back to the Senate as soon as possible, there to await its further examination by the Senate when the debate resumes.

Senator Byrne - Mr President, I ask for leave to make a short statement, addressing myself to this motion. I was taken a little aback to realise that this was the matter before the Senate. I feel that there is something that I could say on this matter.

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