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Tuesday, 28 June 1994
Page: 2180

Senator FAULKNER (Minister for the Environment, Sport and Territories) (11.47 p.m.) —During this committee stage of the debate I indicate again to the chamber that I can give the assurances that Senator Kemp asked for. I give my commitment, on behalf of Mr Sciacca, in relation to those matters. I think I made that clear in my earlier contribution. I congratulate Senator Kemp for managing to get the issue of Mabo into a veterans' entitlements bill. He has done very well in that regard. Only he could do it.

  Before I conclude my comments, I want to place on record my appreciation for all the work of the Baume committee, chaired by former Senator—now Professor—Peter Baume, Robyn Layton QC, and Air Vice Marshal Richard Bomball, who undertook an extraordinarily difficult task. They carried out their work to great purpose and effect. As a former veterans' affairs minister I want to take this opportunity to place on record my appreciation of their efforts. I believe that is an appreciation shared by other members of government and, more broadly, by members of this parliament.

  I also want to say that in no small measure the Minister for Veterans' Affairs has been able to present a package of measures in the last budget that will be of lasting benefit to the veterans community, because of the leadership that was shown by the ex-service community. I want to again take the opportunity to personally thank those leaders of the ex-service community who involved themselves in dialogue and debate on these issues over a long period.

  These issues are difficult ones for the veterans community to grapple with. I think we all accept and understand that. I certainly appreciated the responsiveness of members of the veterans community while I was minister. Their willingness to sit down and engage in dialogue on these important issues showed great responsibility, great maturity and great leadership. I know that those sentiments are very much echoed by Mr Sciacca, who is now the Minister for Veterans' Affairs and who has had the pleasure of seeing this great package of reforms through to its conclusion. I commend this bill to the chamber.

  Amendments agreed to.

  Bill, as amended, agreed to.

  Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.