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Wednesday, 13 November 2002
Page: 6182


Senator ABETZ (Special Minister of State) (10:24 AM) —With great respect, it was a very simple question. We were told COAG decided to target the serious offences that are in the bill. I asked a very simple question: did they deliberately decide not to make possession a crime? We were told about the committee system. I think it is a good system. There has been criticism that the committee did not have sufficient time et cetera. The simple fact is that this bill is different. We are dealing with a conscience vote on this and I think it is quite appropriate for honourable senators to raise questions, because as time goes by more questions do arise. I regret that, because of other duties et cetera, I was not able to participate in the committee and I was not able to give this bill the sort of attention that I would have liked to up until the middle of last week. Reading through it, there have come to mind a number of amendments and this one of possession leaves a gaping hole in the regime. I am interested to know if COAG deliberately decided not to make possession a crime. If so, why? I think the chamber is entitled to an answer.