Senate debates

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Order of Continuing Effect

4:58 pm

Photo of Joe LudwigJoe Ludwig (Queensland, Australian Labor Party, Manager of Government Business in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

That is what the government is concerned about. You should take the opportunity of listening to the submission I am making, rather than simply holding on to what I consider to be a poorly drafted document that does not take into account all the circumstances that might arise. It circumscribes quite wrongly the way the Senate actually works and I think it can be open to abuse in the process that you have put in place.

The difficulty, in truth, is that it provides more confusion than clarity. Where the motion does get to detail public interest immunity—and this is one matter that the opposition has missed—it could be construed to circumscribe and limit the operation of public interest immunity by the way it is structured. You do not have an embodiment of the test for public interest immunity within the order, but you do have words which describe public interest immunity. I think it could be reasonably construed that you are limiting it only to those instances and not to the broader view of what public interest immunity is. That is, similarly, a concern. Nowhere does the motion establish an operational process for clarifying whether the risk of harm arising from the release of the information outweighs the senator’s need for information. You are simply asserting that the senator’s need is by far greater.

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