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Monday, 21 November 2011
Page: 8963


Senator SIEWERT (Western AustraliaAustralian Greens Whip) (12:13): Just so that I am absolutely clear about what the Greens are not supporting and about our position: we are of a mind at this stage to support these amendments. We believe they maintain the secretary's discretion to be able to:

… make a determination under this section in relation to the person if the Secretary is satisfied that the person is the principal carer of one or more children, and that:

(a) the person is a registered and active foster carer; or

(b) the person is a home educator of that child, or one or more of those children; or

(c) the person is a distance educator of that child, or one or more of those children; or

(d) under a family law order that the person is complying with, a child, of whom the person is a relative (other than a parent), is to live with the person.

And then section 502D(3A), as I understand it—the other one—applies too: the secretary may make a determination under this section in relation to the person if the secretary is satisfied that the person is the principal carer for four or more children. I have questions of both Senator Bernardi, as the opposition is moving these amendments, and the government. Why does the government think it is appropriate that the secretary not have the power to make such a determination? These are very important categories, and I would have thought it would have been appropriate to exempt them. I must admit I am supporting this although we are not supporting the bill. If this bill goes through, as it is indicated to be highly likely to, we believe these exemptions should be kept in place. I ask Senator Bernardi whether it is your intention, by moving these amendments, to keep in place those exemptions for those particular categories? Am I correct in that understanding?