Thursday, 3 December 2020
Australia's Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) Bill 2020, Australia's Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2020; In Committee
by leave—I ask that the votes of the Greens in favour of that amendment be recorded.
The CHAIR: Yes, we can do that.
In respect of the Australia's Foreign Relations (State and Territory Arrangements) (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2020, the Greens oppose clause 58 on sheet 1078 in the following terms:
(6) Clause 58, page 70 (lines 1 to 4), TO BE OPPOSED.
This is to remove a clause from the bill. At the moment, the bill says that the minister is not required to observe any requirements of procedural fairness in exercising a power or performing a function under this act. We think that it is pretty unreasonable. We think that basic legislative standards and common-law standards are that procedural fairness should be allowed. When these bills went to the Scrutiny of Bills Committee, the committee said:
The committee considers that the right to procedural fairness is a fundamental common law right and it expects that any limitation on this right be comprehensively justified…
The committee did not consider that the explanation in the explanatory memorandum as to why procedural fairness should be excluded was at all satisfactory, and we wrote to the minister. We received further information back from the minister and, certainly, having seen that letter, I do not see any further justification as to why procedural fairness should be excluded. The right to procedural fairness is based on two things. It requires that decision-makers aren't biased and do not appear to be biased, and that a person who may be adversely affected by a decision is given an adequate opportunity to put their case before the decision is made. I think these are two very, very basic requirements, and there is no reason why procedural fairness should be excluded in this legislation.