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Thursday, 24 March 1994
Page: 2163


Senator WATSON (11.49 a.m.) —The opposition will certainly not stand in the way of a reference to the committee, but the point I made before Senator Coulter came in was that the issue has already been examined in great detail by the committee and I think it would be unlikely that the members of that committee would add further substance to what they have already said. Despite that previous report—and it was a good report—the government has embarked upon a program of deliberately going down a confrontationist route with the Senate in terms of whether increasing the burden of taxation actually imposes taxation and these sorts of issues. So I think the preferable route is to throw it back to the government because at the end of the day it is an issue that has to be determined between the two houses of parliament. If the government persists in introducing bills and amendments in the form it has, there will continue to be problems.

  While I appreciate the sentiments and sense behind what Senator Coulter is offering, at the end of the day we have got to convince the government to changes its processes. That is why I threw back into the government's court that I was seeking an undertaking from the government to evaluate this first. If it is prepared to do that, I would not see the need for Senator Coulter's reference to the committee. Perhaps we should, therefore, seek a commitment from Senator Cook. If that commitment is not forthcoming, we would certainly support the reference to the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, because the issue must be resolved.