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Wednesday, 3 December 2003
Page: 23599

Mr MARTIN FERGUSON (1:17 PM) —In response to the government, I very firmly reject any suggestion that this amendment is window-dressing. The opposition has treated this bill in a thorough and serious way and has held extensive negotiations with the government, with the assistance of ministerial staff and departmental officials over a long period. The government has to accept that Labor treat legislation seriously. Labor do not oppose it or amend it for the sake of playing political games. We would not have brought this amendment into the House if we did not think it was of substance.

More importantly, in response to the government's submissions, Labor did consult with key stakeholders. We do not pull these things out of the air. We actually sit down with the key stakeholders to try and force them to not only consult the government but also appropriately give the opposition proper feedback so we can understand their concerns. That is what good government legislation is about. It is not about grandstanding; it is not about window-dressing—it is about doing the job in the nation's best interests. I remind the House that, in terms of so-called consultation with stakeholders with respect to duty of care, in its submission to the hearing last week, to which I have already referred, Qantas said:

Qantas merely seeks sufficient information on all Persons in Custody, regardless of their status, in order to make an informed assessment as to any potential risk and thereby discharge its duty of care to its passengers and staff. The necessity for carriers to be appropriately advised by authorities of the proposed carriage of PIC cannot be overstated.

I want to end with this point: if the government is not prepared to wear this amendment—putting it rather bluntly—then, when something goes wrong, I will be at this dispatch box questioning the minister as to why the amendment was not agreed to and asking him to explain his lack of adequate attention to what I think is the basis of this bill and the very reason Labor have sought to get agreement—that is, this parliament's requirement to accept its duty of care with respect to the operation of the airline industry and the responsibilities of government to establish the framework, make it work, review it on a regular basis and carry some responsibilities rather than always shifting responsibilities to the private sector.