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Friday, 3 April 1987
Page: 1840

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Resources and Energy)(12.25) —As a ministerial courtesy to Senator Walters, I just indicate that her amendment is not acceptable to the Government. We have made it clear that the legislation, on its face, should apply only to those who are directly affected by the operation of these clauses. The legislation provides for compensation to those who are directly restrained. We have announced-I repeat Senator Coates's statement-a commitment to consider compensation as a matter of policy for other persons who have a good case, based on losses arising from the operation of the legislation. At this stage we do not want to open the floodgates to claims of indirect compensation-and give it a firm statutory base-because of the responsibility we obviously have to the taxpayers of this nation not to encourage what might be long, drawn out claims which might ultimately prove to have no foundation.

Moreover, the underlying consideration is that the Government does not believe that any of this course of action and restraint, pursuant to the inquiry, will cause loss or damage to anyone at all. That is what the Minister for Education (Senator Ryan) endeavoured to say last night in perhaps too shorthand a fashion. However, to the extent that direct loss is caused, the Bill covers it; to the extent that indirect loss can credibly be established, the Government will consider what might be done in relation to that. I do not think we can be fairer, more reasonable, more comprehensive in our response, and under those circumstances I hope Senator Walters will appreciate that this seems to be another clause on which we are just destined to differ.