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Wednesday, 15 July 1998
Page: 6120


Mr STEPHEN SMITH (1:05 PM) —by leave—I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the member for Perth moving that:

(1) the Regional Forest Agreements Bill 1998 be referred to the Standing Committee on Primary Industries, Resources and Rural and Regional Affairs for consideration and an advisory report by 31 August 1998; and

(2) the terms of this resolution, so far as they are inconsistent with the standing and sessional orders, have effect notwithstanding anything contained in the standing and sessional orders.

In accordance with an agreement made with the table, I will speak for about a minute and the Parliamentary Secretary (Cabinet) to the Prime Minister (Mr Miles) will speak for the same length of time. Nothing will be lost by the House referring this legislation to the relevant House of Representatives standing committee for report back by 31 August, the time when the House and Senate will return. We have made the point in the course of this debate that this matter has not been the subject of adequate detailed consideration. I refer again to the Forest and Forest Industry Council of Tasmania, which wrote to me earlier this month and said:

While this legislation was due to be introduced by 30 June, the lack of wide consultation with interested RFA stakeholders suggested to us that it had been delayed. Its introduction without this consultation meant that most groups have had no input into its contents.

It is entirely appropriate for the house committee to be asked to consider the detail of this legislation when it is quite clear that interested stakeholders and parties have not been consulted. There has been no opportunity for comprehensive debate today. There is no opportunity for us to have a consideration in detail debate today. We find today that, even if we did have a consideration in detail debate, the minister is not present to answer any appropriate questions.