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Thursday, 14 October 1999
Page: 9679


Senator KEMP (Assistant Treasurer) (9:57 AM) —It is clear from the debate in the chamber that the numbers are there for the motion that has been moved by Senator Cook and that this motion will go through. I would like to make a couple of points. Firstly, if there were to be an inquiry, it would be the very strong preference of the government to have an earlier reporting date rather than a later one. We can always argue whether things are possible or not. For the responsible management of the government's program in terms of providing certainty for the community, it is important that this matter be dealt with in as expeditious a way as possible. From the government's point of view, we would have preferred an earlier date, but clearly the numbers are there for the 22 November date. Secondly, I note Senator Murray's comments about the need for the inquiry to be constructive. It needs to avoid the excesses we have seen with previous inquiries, one of which I think was chaired by Senator Cook. It is important that we deal with the matters before the inquiry as quickly and efficiently as possible, so those comments from Senator Murray were particularly welcome.

We will not be supporting the amendment that has been moved by Senator Brown. In relation to Senator Harris's comments, I would welcome the chance to have a chat with him. I did not hear all of his speech, but the remarks that I heard seemed to me to suggest that the ATO was levying some taxes. I think he may have been misinformed and I am happy to have a discussion with him.

Question put:

That the amendment (Senator Brown's ) be agreed to.