Lang Hancock, “A victim of retrospectivity,” The Australian, October 22, 1982, p. 8, as a letter to the editor.
SIR — Using retrospectivity to fool the voter into thinking he is going to pay less tax by taking money earned lawfully from others may be good politics based on the axiom that governments can fool most of the people most of the time, but I doubt if the public genuinely understands what it means.
So let me give you a first-hand true experience from one who has suffered by retrospectivity from both Houses of the West Oustralian Parliament.
I refer to the occasion when iron ore bodies, which I discovered and proved up, were confiscated from me and my partner and given to others.
Retrospectivity means that if it should transpire a citizen of Australia should inform the Government he intended to defend his legal rights in court against confiscation by the Government, then he must be prepared to have that right stripped from him by a retrospective law bulldozed through Parliament to deny him that right.
Let me quote — not from Adolf Hitler, but from the Minister for Mines of Western Australia, who said:
This (retrospective) law is not liable to be challenged, appealed against, reviewed, quashed or called into question by any court.
On this same subject, let me quote the president of the West Australian Law Society:
… the bill proposed to extinguish any rights Hancock and Wright may have over the Angela reserves and in effect deprive the court of the opportunity of deciding between the individuals and the State.
It is a very dangerous practice for the State when involved in such a dispute to resort to legislation to prevent the court hearing the matter by depriving the individual retrospectively of his rights to which the State takes exception.
Perhaps it is because this outrage was perpetrated in Western Australia that the West Australian members of the Federal Parliament are against retrospectivity.
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