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Monday, 12 September 2011
Page: 5681

Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (12:43): I indicate that I for one do not impugn Senator Wright's intentions or motives in relation to this. I just want to make that clear. I am not doing that. I have concerns, though, because the onus is on the government to ensure that these amendments will not have unintended consequences. I commend Senator Wright for her diligence and the genuine nature in which she has approached this particular issue. But I did support the coalition in relation to the last division with respect to progress being reported. In other words: I supported the delaying of this bill until we heard from some of the key stakeholders—in particular, from the RSL. Now, unless the Parlia¬≠mentary Secretary for Defence, Senator Feeney, is able to provide the chamber with information that the RSL has seen the precise wording of this addendum to the explanatory memorandum and has had a chance to consider the precise wording, I for one am reluctant for this bill to proceed. Given the will of the chamber is that the bill does proceed, I think the appropriate course of action is that the Senate examine forensically schedule 2 and the addendum to the explanatory memorandum, which has a arisen as a result of the diligence and hard work of Senator Wright. But there are still legitimate questions to ask about the potential effects.

Given that the RSL has commented on this previously and that it was a participant to the Senate inquiry into the bill, in which Senator Fawcett, among others, had an active role—I acknowledge Senator Fawcett's service to this nation, given his distinguished background in the Australian Defence Force—the gaping concern to me is that, it is important we find out what the key stakeholders are saying. So, if I may, I ask the parliamentary secretary: since this matter was last raised in committee has there been any sign off, any communication, from the Returned and Services League or other key stakeholder groups, such as the Vietnam Veterans Federation, in relation to the addendum to the explanatory memorandum to this bill?