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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 12611


Mr CRAIG THOMSON (Dobell) (18:52): Can I say in response to what the minister has said that, if he is right that we have misunderstood the legislation, if he is right that the university sector has misunderstood the legislation, if he is right that the university lawyers have misunderstood the legislation, if he is right that the law firm that the universities got to do their work on have misunderstood the legislation, if he is right that the education union has misunderstood the legislation, if he is right that the coalition and Greens senators last night misunderstood the legislation, then surely he has made the case that the member for New England set out—that we should not be dealing with this legislation now, in such haste, until all of those parties understand the legislation, understand the intent, so that we can go forward.

The minister's response has clearly made the case that this legislation is contested, that people have different views about, and in his view is misunderstood, there is a very easy solution to make sure that this legislation is fully understood by all of those groups that he says misunderstand it: to not push it through tonight, to take up the offer that the member for New England put in good faith—and that is to reintroduce this legislation the next time we sit here in Canberra and spend that time making sure we understand the legislation, those groups understand the legislation and the industry understands the legislation; because there can only be two options here: either the legislation is in such a form that it is easily misunderstood or in fact the minister is wrong and it does have the effect that the crossbenchers have spoken about today, that it is deleterious to the research sector. It can only be one of those two positions, and surely, for such an important issue, it is worth making sure we get it right. This is something that should not be rushed through today. If we do this we are making a grave mistake and we need to be making sure that higher education is given the courtesy, the respect and the emphasis and priority that it deserves.