Senate debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023


Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2022 Measures No. 1) Bill 2022; In Committee

10:54 am

Photo of Malcolm RobertsMalcolm Roberts (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | Hansard source

Minister, the way I've been advised on this bill is that, No. 1, it strips fundamental legal rights and legal principles that have been fundamental for centuries. No. 2, it is sneaky. It's been introduced very sneakily, and I'll ask you questions about that in a minute. No. 3, I have significant problems with the provisions, and I'll ask you questions about that.

The pelvic mesh disaster is nothing short of a cruel, inhuman disaster. People have been neglected and they need this help. You've had two other bills on pelvic mesh, which we supported, but this one is a baloney sandwich. While it does have some good material on pelvic mesh and alleviating that crippling problem, it has been sneakily bundled in with big changes in a bill that's supposed to support pelvic mesh but really goes to freeing up and giving complete control with limited accountability to bureaucrats.

There's been no committee inquiring into this bill—none at all. The changes are sneaky. They give one bureaucrat unprecedented power to approve medicines that are not tested in Australia and immunity from accountability. I want to read some parts of the report from the Scrutiny of Bills Committee, Scrutiny digest 1 of 2023, because that's where I'd like to go with my first questions. I'll start with the reversal of evidential burden of proof. I'm not a lawyer, but I understand you are, Minister. I quote item 1.176 in the Scrutiny digest:

As the explanatory materials do not address this issue—

that is, reversal of evidential burden of proof—

the committee requests the minister's advice as to why it is proposed to use a defence of reasonable excuse (which reverses the evidential burden of proof) for proposed subsection 45AC(3). The committee's consideration of the appropriateness of a provision which reverses the burden of proof is assisted if it explicitly addresses relevant principles as set out in the Guide to Framing Commonwealth Offences.

What is your response to that, Minister?


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