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Wednesday, 29 November 2000
Page: 20158

Senator FORSHAW (5:24 PM) —During the second reading debate and during the committee stage, the opposition indicated that we were supportive of this legislation in principle, but we did have some concerns about the adequacy of the accountability measures in the legislation, which we believe are lacking. What has transpired during the committee stage thus far leaves us with substantial concerns that the accountability measures are not sufficient. Further, we note that the report of the Senate Scrutiny of Bills Committee—and it was tabled only this afternoon—has raised the same concerns that we have raised and has done so very specifically. That committee, which I remind the Senate and the parliamentary secretary is chaired by a government senator—

Senator Troeth —It is always chaired by an opposition senator. You should know that, Senator.

Senator FORSHAW —My apologies. It is chaired by an opposition member, that is correct, but it does contain members of the government. That committee has continued to raise its concerns, notwithstanding the responses in the interchange which has taken place between the parliamentary secretary and the committee. On that basis, we feel we have to consider the real possibility of moving some amendments to the legislation with respect to the issue of accountability, particularly relating to the sections which go to declarations and other actions by the minister. I understand this has been raised with the Government Whip and the parliamentary secretary. Therefore, I move:

That the committee report progress and seek leave to sit again.

In moving that motion, in no way can it be taken that the opposition are seeking to delay this legislation. We are as keen as the government to have it disposed of. I am sure that is self-evident. These are real issues which we believe need to be given proper consideration. It is only in the context of the debate in the committee and the report of the Scrutiny of Bills Committee tabled only an hour or so ago that we have been put in this position.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Progress reported.