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Wednesday, 13 November 2002
Page: 6250


Senator MURRAY (4:07 PM) —by leave—I would have kept quiet, but I think that, in view of some of the remarks made, I need to say a few things. As usual, there has been truth all around the chamber. Firstly, we have such a crowded program that any bill which intrudes and which would take hours to debate obviously has to be considered carefully. Whilst it is true that this bill has been endlessly debated, it is a bill which comes forward with endless arguments that need to be rebutted.

I can assure the chamber that, speaking on behalf of the Democrats, we would take the time and effort needed to debate this bill in full. I am quite certain that so will the Labor people. For instance, the latest Melbourne study cited by the minister is just one of those pieces of paper and items of misinformation which firstly needs to be forensically examined—hopefully beginning at next week's estimates—and secondly would need to be thoroughly rebutted, because the government knows that, if you keep repeating untruths, there are enough people out there in its heartland who believe them. The difficulty for us all is that we have to constantly rebut extravagant claims made by the government with detailed and factual analysis and response.

Frankly, the only possible grounds for this bill to be considered urgently would be if it were the trigger for a double dissolution. If the government were to come to us and say, `We want this to be urgent because we want a double dissolution,' both Labor and we would say, `Bring it on.' But the Prime Minister himself has said that he does not want a double dissolution. If he does not want a double dissolution, there is no question of courage or cowardice. There is no question at hand. There is simply a question of the policy issue. The policy issue will require hours of debate and some further production of analysis. The Democrats would have considered the cut-off exemption favourably if the Prime Minister had said he wanted a double dissolution. He does not want one, therefore there is no urgency and therefore we will leave it until next year.