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Friday, 26 May 1972
Page: 2216

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesLeader of the Opposition) - I intervene before my colleague Senator Milliner speaks in order to make clear to the Committee what has been done here today. The Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) has moved an amendment which would make this amalgamation clause operate from today. Honourable senators will understand the alleged justification for it which the Minister has put forward. He spoke about filibustering. But let us be clear about what is happening. It is immaterial whether this amendment is carried today or on Tuesday or

Wednesday. That has nothing to do with if. So, people should not think that if we delay it so that a vote is not taken until 4.30 that makes any difference. It makes not the slightest difference. What the Attorney-General is seeking to do is to put something into a Bill which under no circumstances can be carried through the Parliament until next week. It would not have mattered if we had passed the Bill with this amendment in it early this morning because the Bill still has to go back to the House of Representatives. The AttorneyGeneral is seeking to put into the Bill now a provision aimed at freezing amalgamations as at today. The Bill will not go through under any circumstances until next week; so obviously there is some specific case that he has in mind in moving this amendment.

The amendment means that he is trying to deal in some way with people who have been operating according to the law. He wants to chop them off or to deal with them. The Committee is entitled to know whom the Attorney-General is trying to get at. If there is anything in the rule of law, it is that the law should apply across the board or to citizens generally. It is not to be applied to any individual specifically so that we make fish of one and fowl of the other. The rule of law means that there are standards that apply across the board. If this Bill cannot become law until next week in any event, all this talk of time wasting is completely irrelevant. Under no circumstances can this law start operating until next week. So why is an amendment introduced this afternoon to stop amalgamations as from 26th May 1972?

This is why I intervened, and I thank Senator Milliner for conceding to me. The Committee is entitled to know just what the Government is trying to achieve. If there are amalgamations or something else which the Attorney-General thinks should be stopped by Tuesday next, let the Government come in here with a list of the people involved, justify its action and say whom it is really trying to get at. Let it say who are the people who have been retrospectively by this Bill which, if it is land but whose actions it wants to cut off retrospectively by this Bill which, if it is passed, will be passed some time next week and will operate retrospectively as from today. It is a dangerous precedent.

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