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Thursday, 14 September 1972
Page: 868

Senator James McClelland (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Opposition, because of some of the remarks made during the course of this debate, has been put into the position of appearing to be on the side of chaos. As I said during the debate on the second reading yesterday, we are not gloating over the predicament in which the Government finds itself. We do not suggest that this is a position which cannot arise in the best organised of communities. We do not wish to be thought to be obstructive or attempting to perpetuate the chaos or disarray in which law enforcement in this Territory finds itself. But surely some of the extreme examples which have been adverted to or suggested by some of the speakers in this debate could be illustrated. For instance, is it impossible for the Attorney-General (Senator Greenwood) to tell us what prisoners are in the gaols of this country at the present time on really serious or heinous offences, such as the crimes of murder or rape, who would be, in effect, entitled to their liberty if the present situation persisted in which doubt is cast on all decisions of the courts made, say, within the last 20 years?

Is it too much to expect the Government to illustrate the lurid case which it has made out about what the Opposition is trying to do - in what we consider to be a legitimate defence of civil liberties - and to give examples of the dire results if, in fact, the dragnet operation of this Bill takes effect. Cannot the Attorney-General give us a few examples of desperate criminals who would be set at large if this validating Bill did not go through the Parliament? Are we just talking in generalistations? Are these just scare stories? In fact, are there no dire results flowing from the acceptance of the principle which we enunciate, that is, that what comes first is the protection of the principle that criminality cannot be created ex post facto. Surely it is not too much to ask the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth of Australia to give us some of these dire examples?

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