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Friday, 28 November 2003
Page: 18345

Senator KEMP (Minister for the Arts and Sport) (9:39 AM) —I think these are the last amendments and we will not be supporting them because, as with numerous other amendments moved by the Democrats and the Labor Party, they are simply unnecessary. The effect of these amendments of the Democrats is already provided for in the bill. I have the clause of the bill here. I do not claim to be a lawyer, but a reasonable person reading the bill would suggest that the fears expressed by Senator Lundy and Senator Greig are not justified.

Let me be specific: the amendments relate to an inspector's power to require information or documents when they are conducting spam related research. Proposed section 549(1)(a) as currently drafted only enables an inspector to require a person to answer questions or produce documents to the extent reasonably necessary for the purpose of ascertaining whether the Spam Bill has been complied with. If you read that proposed section, Senator Greig, I regret to say that I do think you have not been well advised on this matter. Senator Greig's amendments support to limit the questions and documents to those related to the investigation. As I have already said, this is already provided for. So we will not be supporting this set of amendments.

This is probably the last series of amendments, and I would like to make some brief comments on the bill. I think we are all in blazing agreement that this bill is necessary and we are all in agreement that this bill has taken a long time to be brought to this stage. This bill is not one on which there are ideological divides between the parties; it is simply a matter of dealing with a complex and difficult issue in a practical manner. My feeling is that the Senate can work out how it wants to spend its time and, equally, senators can decide how they want to spend their time. I make no particular judgment on that; people's priorities differ—

Senator Mackay interjecting

Senator KEMP —and, Senator Mackay, people can make their judgments as to whom they want as leader in their party. You just keep quiet. You have not been in this debate; you have just wandered in. I am just making a couple of comments. So you just get back to worrying about Simon and we will deal with this bill, if that will suit you.

Senator Lundy —It is your time.

Senator Mackay —Stop wasting time and just get on with it.

Senator KEMP —Senator Mackay, you have made no contribution to the debate. You are upset and concerned because of the ructions in the Labor Party, so do not come into this chamber and vent your spleen.

Senator Mackay —Just get on with it.

Senator KEMP —I will, if you will kindly keep quiet.

Senator Mackay —Get on with it then.

Senator KEMP —Are you finished?

Senator Mackay —Have you?

Senator KEMP —No, I have not.

Senator Mackay —Sit down if you have.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Sandy Macdonald)—Order!

Senator KEMP —Mr Temporary Chairman, I would have thought it a little bit early for someone to be showing the effects of partying last night. But the point I am making—

Senator Mackay interjecting

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —Order! Minister, just proceed with your comments.

Senator KEMP —Senator Mackay is upset because of what is happening in the Labor Party and what is happening to Simon Crean, so she comes in and starts shouting in this chamber and behaving in a silly and irrational fashion.

Senator Lundy —Mr Temporary Chairman, on a point of order related to relevance: what a bizarre departure from the business at hand. We are working to the government's program. We are cooperating with the government by sitting on a Friday to get its legislation through. We have just had an extraordinary example of how the government wants to waste everybody's time. I ask you to call him to order on the point of relevance.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —I thank Senator Lundy for her contribution, but there is no point of order.

Senator Mackay —Mr Temporary Chairman, on the point of order: I feel aggrieved by the comments that the minister has made, particularly the comments about my activities last night when I was working.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —What is your point of order?

Senator Mackay —My point is that I would like that withdrawn. Secondly, I indicate to the chamber that the minister ought to be relevant. I was aware of his pathetic performance last night—blowing out the government's time—and I ask him to get on with it so that we can proceed with the program.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —Thank you for your contribution too, Senator Mackay, but there is no point of order. I ask the minister to keep his mind and comments on the amendments being considered.

Senator KEMP —The point I was making is that this bill has travelled a long way. It is a pity that we have had a wide range of amendments that on one level are flawed and on another level raise issues that have already been dealt with in the bill. I think there is a better way to deal with these types of issues, to be quite frank. The way to deal with them is not to produce amendments of a highly technical nature to a bill on the morning the bill is to be presented. We have the problem that we have had a long debate and these amendments will inevitably fall over in the end. As far as I am aware, they do not have any widespread community support. From my point of view, this bill could have been better dealt with. In the end it is up to the Senate to do what it wishes, but I do not think this has been a great debate. Issues that the government has raised have never been properly addressed in this chamber, as far as I can see. I made point after point which was not responded to. So the bill in its current form is not one the government finds acceptable.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —The question is that Democrat amendments (8) and (9) be agreed to.

Question agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Bills reported with amendments; report adopted.