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Thursday, 24 March 1994
Page: 2164

Senator HARRADINE (11.52 a.m.) —I was very interested to hear what the Minister for Industry, Technology and Regional Development (Senator Cook) has said. The minister mentioned initially that issues of constitutionality are not determined in the Senate. That is perfectly correct in one way but, as he would agree, we all have the obligation as senators to act in accordance with what we think are the requirements of the constitution. Frankly, for some of us to vote for requests instead of for amendments to a bill such as is now before us is acting contrary to what a number of us feel are our obligations under the constitution.

  Clearly, of course, we could fall back on the point that standing orders do enable a request to be made to the House of Representatives on any legislation, but that is not a very satisfactory way of dealing with these very major questions. I do support the point made by Senator Watson, Senator Margetts, Senator Coulter and, of course, Senator James Short, and I acknowledge the cooperative spirit displayed by the minister.

  In view of the minister's last point that he would ask the Attorney-General (Mr Lavarch), in light of what has been said and, presumably, incorporated in this debate, to review this matter, would the minister report back to the Senate, at some future stage obviously—it could not be today? Ultimately, as has been indicated in the debate, this will have to be resolved between both houses of parliament; and it would assist us in our consideration of the matter if the minister, having given the undertaking that he has, also gave an indication that the government would report back to the Senate in due course.