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Tuesday, 27 March 2007
Page: 85

Senator ABETZ (Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation) (6:19 PM) —Briefly in response: I hate to disappoint Senator Marshall, because I know he had every expectation that the government might support his amendment. The government will not be supporting the amendment for a number of reasons. I will talk firstly about the technical one. In the first amendment, references are made to item 47, which is in fact the transitional rate. That will only be in effect from about April until 1 July. But we need not labour on that point, because we disagree with the matter on the administrative complexity. Not only would it cost between $3 million and $5 million a year making it retrospective; chances are it would cost in the vicinity of $40 million to $70 million, just in very round terms, backdating everything. And it begs the question: where would that money come from? I suppose the Future Fund could withstand a few more raids from the Labor Party. I do not think it is in the long-term interest to have this sort of profligacy where money is being allegedly committed without any real source for it. But that is what we have come to expect from Labor over the years.

In relation to the administrative difficulties, since 1994 a lot of potential beneficiaries will have, unfortunately, deceased or whatever. Senator Marshall, with his legislation, would give them an entitlement, and we would then need to pursue the estate and the beneficiaries of the estate to somehow allocate the moneys. It would be a huge administrative nightmare for not much benefit. On the advice that I have been given, under our proposed legislation, this so-called Daryl—to whom Senator Marshall refers and to whom the Senate report also refers, and who I think was first used by the Law Society—would in fact be $206.97 a week better off. There is no doubt that people will be better off as a result of our proposal. Senator Marshall’s amendment, whilst I am sure it is well motivated, unfortunately is technically flawed and would be an administrative nightmare to implement.