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Wednesday, 28 February 2007
Page: 115

Senator STEPHENS (Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition) (5:45 PM) —I too rise to take note of this presentation of the Hansard record of proceedings of the inquiry that the Senate Standing Committee on Economics held on Monday. Senator Ludwig has raised the issue of the undue haste with which the committee was required to deal with this legislation. We will get the opportunity to debate the legislation when it finally comes to this place, but there are some important issues that need to be placed on the record.

One of those issues is that what has happened is unprecedented for our committee. Our committee was presented with a report when there had been quite complex evidence provided to us in the hearing on Monday. Members of the committee were not able to actually consider the text of the evidence prior to considering the report before it was presented here yesterday. We received evidence that was not only quite complex but also raised some very important issues for those of us who wanted to make additional comments to the report and wanted to reflect the accuracy of the evidence that was provided to us. So there is a very important issue here.

My concern is that we have been leveraged into such a hasty consideration of this report that we now have on record an extraordinary precedent where we can have significant legislation inquiry reports being footnoted that they are in fact secretariat notes from the public hearings. The substantive issues that we had to deal with included a recommendation from the minority members of the committee that the bill actually be split and that one section of the bill not be considered, based on the evidence that we received on Monday. I think that is something we in this place need to bear in mind for the future.