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Monday, 9 May 1994
Page: 439


Senator SCHACHT (Minister for Small Business, Customs and Construction) (4.26 p.m.) —I do not want to give a lecture about or a long internal description of the processes of the Australian Labor Party, but I have been involved in them for a long time as a delegate to the national executive and a delegate to the national conference. I want to point out to Senator Short that on occasions in the past the government has adopted policies that have required subsequent changing by the national conference. That has happened in the past, often after some heat in debate. But I cannot recollect any that have not been satisfactorily resolved in one form or another.

  Again, I think the process open to the national conference, if it so chooses, is to accept the government's decision if that decision has been enacted by the time the conference takes place in early September. In the normal course of events and bearing in mind the timetable of getting legislation through this parliament, even if the legislation were introduced in the next few weeks, subject to the budget tomorrow night, I doubt whether we would get it through anyway. So the legislation may still be before us in the second half of this year.

  Again, these are matters for the legislative committee of cabinet to consider with regard to the timetabling of dealing with legislation. I cannot speculate about the contents of the budget and so on, such as issues of what value the AIDC may be. That will be revealed in the budget tomorrow if that is the wish of the Treasurer (Mr Willis).

  I can assure Senator Short that one should not get too excited about the ALP national conference and the Labor Party government being in conflict. When they have been in conflict before they have, from my recollection of all these occasions in the last 11 years, been resolved by very careful consideration by both the conference and the Labor Party.