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Thursday, 26 September 2002
Page: 4962

Senator CARR (10:12 AM) —I will briefly respond to Senator Stott Despoja's remarks. Firstly, I suppose it is not to be unexpected that, when there is success in this approach, the Democrats would try and play it down. I accept that that is the way it works; that is fine. We, however, are very confident that there has been a significant improvement in the situation and we will argue that position. We are more than happy to argue that publicly.

Secondly, there was an imputation that there had been, somehow or other, arrangements made by the government and the opposition with regard to the timing of this bill. I can assure Senator Stott Despoja that, like her, I knew that this matter was coming on when I read the red this morning. That is the long and short of it: I had as much notice as she did about this bill being returned at this time. I knew it was debated yesterday in the House but I read the red this morning and that was my notification.

Senator Ludwig —They would have got the draft yesterday.

Senator CARR —The manager points out to me that there were, in fact, draft reds available. I will confess that I did not read the draft red last night but I did read the red this morning.

Senator Stott Despoja —I just wanted to know what you agreed on—

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Ferguson)—Order! Senator Stott Despoja, this is a not a debate with Senator Carr; I ask you to cease interjecting. Senator Carr, would you please address your remarks through the chair.

Senator CARR —Of course I will address my remarks through the chair. These are matters being canvassed across the chamber and the committee tends to be a little more informal than, I understand, the standing orders would otherwise properly allow. The substantive question is: when did we know when the amendments were going to be agreed to by the government? I understand that that was the case yesterday and that they were moved by us. These amendments were moved by us. So, again, it was no great secret. The member for Jagajaga moved these amendments. Therefore, it should not be a surprise to the Democrats that I would support those amendments here. They are Labor Party amendments which the government has been obliged to accept.

Concerning the question of guarantees, we know that when dealing with this government guarantees mean very little. So often before we have heard words about their guarantees. What we can say is this: in the discussions around these amendments we are firmly of the view and it is our clear understanding that these institutions will be required to report on the same basis as public institutions. We will see in their annual reports and in the government's published statistics the effect of the policies being pursued in regard to admissions and research and the other matters that we would expect from any other public institution. So the reports will be as rigorous as they are for public institutions.

You may well argue that that in itself opens up a few other questions, but that is their understanding. We have also said that, if their understandings are shown to be incorrect, we will revisit the issue—I have stated that already. After the next election I anticipate that there will be a change of government, and I am sure all the senators will acknowledge that, and we will have plenty of opportunities.