Local, Independant and Effective
November 24, 2015

Government legislation must be strong and reliable: Cathy McGowan AO

Independent Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan AO, said her stance to oppose the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Allegiance to Australia) Bill was based on her belief Government must pass strong and reliable laws.

Speaking to the Bill, Ms McGowan said her focus was clearly on the inclusion of a retrospective provision and the cloud of uncertainty over the constitutional viability of the Bill.

Ms McGowan said the rule of law should be a paramount focus in Parliament.

“Our processes and procedures work to ensure that we have the highest possible standards of government and the best outcomes for the people of Australia,” she said.

“Retrospective laws make the law less certain and reliable, and a person who makes a decision based on what the law is today will be disadvantaged if the law is changed retrospectively.

“From my perspective, enacting a retrospective law weakens the rule of law and has the potential to lessen the level of confidence the people of Australia have in us as legislators.”

University of Sydney constitutional law Professor Anne Twomey and constitutional lawyer George Williams have raised their concerns about the retrospective aspect of the Bill and how it could be vulnerable to a challenge. The Shadow Attorney-General raised concerns with the constitutional viability of the bill in his speech on the Bill on November 12.

The initial bill on June 24 was roundly criticised by legal and constitutional experts. It raised significant questions relating to human rights, statelessness, citizenship and the limits of executive power. Many of these criticisms have now been addressed. A number of necessary amendments were made based on Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security recommendations.

Ms McGowan said if the Government considered the Bill to be critical to the health, safety and welfare of all Australians in the face of terrorism, then it should be beyond legal challenge.

Full transcript and video available online.

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