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Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Page: 6949

Senator XENOPHON (South Australia) (13:07): I rise for two reasons. Firstly, I want to correct the record in relation to the last vote. The division was on whether the question be put. In error, I assumed that it was a vote on an amendment to the legisla¬≠tion, which I supported. I apologise for that. I was in the middle of a committee meeting. My vote was in error, and I bear the responsibility for that—although I note that it would not have changed the outcome, because as a general principle I am always loath to support what is effectively a guillotine. I do note that this debate has been going for some time—

Senator Cormann: No, it has not.

Senator XENOPHON: No, Senator Cormann. I want to make it clear that my true voting intention was not to support that the question be put in relation to the division, but the outcome would not have been differ¬≠ent. Having said that, I still support the government's legislation, for the reasons I outlined in my contribution to the second reading debate. I think it is important to point out that the Howard government, when it introduced this legislation, did set aside a specific fund—I think it was about $100 million—to make up for the loss of facilities and loss of services. Also, vice-chancellors across the country have expressed dismay about the impact VSU has had on campus facilities. To me, this is a pragmatic way to deal with those problems. It is legislation that I do support. I believe there are sufficient safeguards in it to ensure that it is not abused and that universities have control over it. For those reasons I still support the legislation, but I do want to make it clear that it was not my intention to support a guillotining of the further debate of this bill.