Statement made on 28 September 2011 by Senator Tommy Banks (retired)
Hon. Tommy Banks:
Honourable senators, I was here. I was the sponsor in this place of the act that established the security apparatus as it presently exists. The difference between then and now, which I would point out to some senators who were not here then, is that, as the Leader of the Government in the Senate has pointed out, that bill was a Liberal government bill when the Liberal government had a majority in the other place and an overwhelming majority here. The difference between then and now is that this place, with an overwhelming Liberal majority, forced the government to put things into that bill that it did not want to put into the bill in order to bring about a reasonable balance between security, on the one hand, and intrusion into individual liberties, on the other.
Senator Fraser can speak with much more detail about this because it was she who took the message to the Liberal government and said, "If you are in such a hurry for this bill, there are some things in it that need to be fixed and if you do not fix them over there, we will fix them when it gets here." They were fixed. They include those sunset clauses and the review processes that are there, among which was a provision that when those provisions of the act to which Senator Cowan has referred were used, they were to be reported to Parliament. That is an act of Parliament, not a suggestion or a request. The government is required to report to Parliament when they are used.
The Prime Minister indicated in his interview with Mr. Mansbridge, as Senator Cowan has pointed out, that they have been used, however rarely. Therefore the question that Senator Cowan has asked is not "When were they used?" or "Upon whom were they used?" or "In what way were they used?" We do not need to know the names and the addresses of the persons on whom they were used, or the names and the addresses or the identities of the persons who caused them to be used. The question is simply: Were they used? It is a perfectly legitimate question and does not cause anyone the slightest difficulty or danger in order to answer it. It is a reasonable question. I hope the leader will take those facts into account.
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