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Wednesday, 24 August 1994
Page: 189


Senator HILL (Leader of the Opposition) (11.39 a.m.) —I move:

"Resolution of 14 March 1973 relating to government responses to committee reports,

At end of resolution, add the following paragraph:

"(3) A government response to a committee report under this resolution shall respond to any minority or dissenting report and any matter added to the report by any member or participating member of the committee.".

The substance of the motion is that there be a requirement that the government respond to not only the majority report of a committee but also the minority report or reports. As I have just lost in the last debate, I continue with the original wording of the circulated copy of this amendment—which I guess demonstrates that I did not have a lot of confidence in the numbers in the last debate—that the government also respond to a matter added to the report by a participating member of the committee.

  Senator Robert Ray has responded that, although he would have preferred this amendment not to be there, nevertheless, if it is carried, the government will respect the substance of it and look to respond to the minority report. That is not an unreasonable obligation to expect of the government, particularly as the committees will still have a government majority. There is the possibility that that government majority may well not cover matters that demand answers from the government; therefore, in many ways, the minority report might be the part that requires answers rather than the majority report. It is a sensible reform to the changes we are making today. I trust that the Senate as a whole will recognise it as such.