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Thursday, 26 September 2002
Page: 4963


Senator HARRIS (10:16 AM) —I am a little puzzled and disappointed that it appears Senator Alston is not going to address the substantive issue that I have raised of the difference between the original amendment that was proposed and passed by the Senate and the alternative amendment that has actually been presented to the Senate. The original amendment stated:

The Minister must, as soon as practicable after the end of the 30 June in each year, cause an annual report to be prepared ...

The minister was then required within 15 days of that report having been produced to provide a copy of that by laying it before each house of parliament.

When we look at the proposed amendment that the government is asking us to accept, the date of causing the report to be produced has changed. There is not an enormous amount of angst about that. But there is nothing in the proposed amendment that requires the minister to table that at a particular time. So the government is asking us to move from a position where the minister is obliged to table a report after it has been produced to a position where the minister does not have to do anything with a report once it is produced.

We also have the issue that I raised before—and I am speaking now about page 5 of the amendments, subsection (2), where it says:

The eligible private institution must comply with the requirement under subsection (1) as soon as practicable.

Senator Alston has not in any way indicated to the chamber what that means. Can they take the entire year to provide that report? Can they take from 31 December one year to 31 December the next year to provide the minister with that report? As this amendment stands, that is exactly what it says. I would like Senator Alston to convey to the chamber whether there is a requirement for the minister to table that report once he receives it and to comment on the open-endedness of subsection (2) on page 5?