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Wednesday, 4 May 1994
Page: 179

Senator SCHACHT (Minister for Small Business, Customs and Construction) (12.39 p.m.) —As I understand it, there were discussions yesterday and today with the shadow minister, Mr Prosser, and his staff on these amendments. As I understand it, the final changes that have been outlined here today were discussed with his adviser today and he wanted a copy of them to give to Mr Prosser. That is the most up-to-date information I can give Senator Macdonald. As I understand it, the adviser did not say that they would oppose it, but I would have to admit that he probably did not say that they supported them. That is the correct description. We have received no further communication since then indicating opposition or support.

Senator Ian Macdonald —All I wanted was an assurance that the proposed amendments had been referred. We will support the amendment, but the point I am making is that these little deals between the factions are done. I just want to have an assurance that the rest of the parliament is included in these little factional deals.

Senator SCHACHT —As far as is humanly possible with the legislation coming out of my customs portfolio, it is always our view that there has got to be consultation, not only with the opposition shadow minister but also with the minor parties in the Senate. Senator Ian Macdonald understands the mathematics of this place as well as I do. That has been the process this government has endorsed, and it will continue to do so. I can assure honourable senators that we will always use every opportunity to explain to the shadow minister what our bill is or what our subsequent amendments are, as far as it is humanly possible to do. It is not just a matter of our dealing with the Democrats; we will deal with all parties in the Senate on these sorts of issues.