Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 23 March 1994
Page: 2033

Senator SHERRY (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy) (11.56 a.m.) —When Senator Watson says `a later date' I am not sure what he means. Because of the practical problems we will run into, I suggest these amendments be dealt with at a later hour. We may then be in a position to provide Senator Watson with some legal advice on this matter. I do not want to enter into a commitment now to shove it off to another day, which means that possibly the amendments to the legislation may not be dealt with this week. I am not prepared to and cannot do that on behalf of the government.

  There is one other matter: the amendments we are talking about that affect the life industry were tabled publicly in December last year. It is not as though we just dropped them into the Senate without any notice or consultation.

Senator O'Chee —But it's the form, a request—

Senator SHERRY —Let me finish. I understand Senator O'Chee's concern about the form and the request and the constitutionality. I want make this clear for the record because it is an important issue. In case Senator Coulter, on behalf of the Democrats, is not aware of this, I point out that these amendments, which affect a possible loss to the government of $5 billion, were made public last December. As I understand it, they were amendments to legislation in the House of Representatives. At the request of the life insurance industry we did not proceed with them in the House of Representatives but withdrew them in order to consult with the industry about the details and the form of those amendments. It is not as though they have dropped out of nowhere at very short notice; they have been around for some four to five months. Without accepting the validity of the constitutional issue raised by the opposition, I acknowledge it.