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Wednesday, 29 February 2012
Page: 1193


Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (12:43): As I say, and as I think Senator Mason has acknowledged, we have tried to address the concerns that were expressed in the committee hearings about the provisions for reporting in the bill, and we have responded to those. Quite frankly, we have not responded in the same way as some would ask us to because there is the integrity of the system to protect. It is important, and this is why we are doing this. I think that one of our amendments goes a bit further than the committee recommended in terms of the time—it went from three days to five, I think. So we are trying to pick up what is reasonable without undermining the integrity of the system.

In terms of the commencement provisions, I think people have had a pretty strong warning about what was about to occur. Obviously they have had the Baird report since March 2010, and the bills have been in the parliament since September 2011. The first TPS levy, which has the most significant impact for providers, will not be imposed until 2013. I do not accept some of the wild claims made about the onerous nature of administrative costs. There is no doubt that there are requirements on providers, but I make no apologies: if you are going to have a system which provides protections, you have to make sure that people actually provide a framework that allows us to do that.

Progress reported.