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Friday, 3 April 1987
Page: 1842


Senator HARRADINE(12.32) —Objectively this amendment should attract the support not only of every senator from the State of Tasmania but also of members of the Government from other States who are in support of this legislation. This amendment seeks simply to say that, if the Government imposes a prohibition in a particular area and as a result of that imposition a person suffers, either directly or indirectly loss or damage, that person will be compensated. The Government is trying to get through Parliament legislation that enables the Minister to make certain decisions. Surely it is our responsibility on behalf of the people in our State, and indeed it is the responsibility of the Government, to ensure that any of the Government's decisions taken in this area should enable compensation to be paid if those decisions impose loss or damage. The impression given in the media is that the Government is really only putting a stay on it so it can have an investigation and that anybody who is affected will be compensated.

As has been said, the problems will relate not just to the logging area but to the mills that rely on certain types of logs. They will be the ones affected down the line, and by and large they are fairly small operators. The Government is really saying: `Oh well, we will have a look now at the ones directly affected'. By and large, they are fairly substantial. Of course it is accepted that the contractors who will be affected severely are certainly not large, but what the Government is saying is that the smaller mills down the line will have to cop the damage if they are affected because they cannot get the logs. The Government is either saying that or is saying to these people: `Take us on trust. We will decide if, how and when you will get your compensation'. It is saying to us here in this Parliament that we should trust it. I do not think it is a question of trust. I might think Senator Evans is a personable sort of chap, but I do disagree with him on a number of issues. We are not talking about whether we like a person or whether we do not; we are talking about legislation and the rights and responsibilities of people.

The Government says that if we go along with this idea there might be a logjam of complaints. There will be a logjam in any event; all that this amendment really does is ensure that the smaller mills down the line who cannot get the logs, which will be one of the main groups affected, have the opportunity, as do others who are directly affected, of taking their complaints to an independent arbitrator. I believe that they should not be required, as this legislation requires them, to buy a pig in a poke.

The amendment proposed by Senator Walters should attract support because it proposes to put into legislation a measure based on the long-standing principle of certainty before the law. People affected by the law ought to be certain as to how they can get redress or how the law will operate. The people who will be affected by this law are certainly not sure how it will affect them and whether or not they will get compensation. I put it to the chamber that a number of these people, being small operators, could have their very livelihoods affected. They are running close to the bone at present. I believe it is only fair, even for those people who support this legislation, to support the amendment put forward by Senator Walters.