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Wednesday, 24 September 1997
Page: 6902


Senator MARGETTS(6.19 p.m.) —I am provoked here. I have been on my feet many times in this chamber in relation to quarantine regulations. I have been on my feet many times because the changes to the international regime, brought in by Australia's involvement with the World Trade Organisation, mean that the difficulties in using science in Australia have become hugely more complex because Australia is subject to reversal of the onus of proof. So, in fact, it is an international political decision.

There is more and more reason for these decisions to be subject to parliamentary scrutiny. If necessary, debate should take place so that not only we but also the community can be involved in the whys and wherefores of decisions which have taken place. If you are saying the decision will only be made on science, I would say: if you check back on those debates again and again you will find out that science has been affected by the international politics of the World Trade Organisation.

I would like to say that I do not accept Australia being led by the nose like we were. There are things that should be questioned again and again; it is the nature of debate that they should be. If I am defeated again and again on that debate, so be it. But generally there is a growing concern, within your own ranks as well, that it is not just about science; it is the fact that science has become shackled by politics—Australian politics and the international politics of the area. I really beg to differ with your statements.

Amendment agreed to.