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Thursday, 18 April 1985
Page: 1205

Senator CHANEY —My question is addressed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his own capacity rather than as Minister representing the Minister for Finance. I refer to the Prime Minister's description of legislation aimed at ensuring the supply of electricity to Queenslanders as 'unacceptable by Australian democratic standards'. Is the Minister aware that Mr Hawke said yesterday that he believed the present dispute in Queensland could be resolved without repeal of this legislation? I ask the Minister: Does this mean that the Government has changed its mind since the Prime Minister telexed the Queensland Premier on Saturday in what amounted to a demand for the repeal of the legislation because of its alleged effect on Australia's international treaty obligations? Does the Government now accept that the legislation can remain on the statute books without prejudicing compliance of the conventions about which the Prime Minister was so concerned less than a week ago?

Senator BUTTON —I do recall that the Prime Minister made some remark to the effect that the legislation was unacceptable by Australian democratic standards. I do not regard that as inconsistent with what the Prime Minister said yesterday. What he said yesterday was that the repeal of that legislation, however desirable-that is how I interpret it, at least-is not a pre-requisite to the settling of the present dispute; that is to say, the dispute can be settled, in the Prime Minister's view, as I understand it, by negotiation without that being a necessary condition of the settlement at this stage.