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Monday, 2 December 2002
Page: 6880

Senator BOSWELL (Leader of the National Party of Australia in the Senate and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services) (6:25 PM) —I have listened to Senator Harradine's explanation of his amendment and I have listened to Senator Stott Despoja's explanation of why she does not want to support the amendment—

Senator Stott Despoja —I am questioning it.

Senator BOSWELL —or of why she is questioning the amendment. I think everyone in the chamber agrees that scientists, researchers or students who are doing their PhDs have a right to say, `I simply don't want to do that.' If the boss were to say, `You're going to do it,' the employee's fallback position might be, `I've got guidelines.' That is all very good. You can have as many guidelines as you want to, but where is it in the law?

It reminds me of the time I was sailing to Gladstone. There was a cyclone coming down the coast and we were going up. We were sailing reasonably well and I said to the skipper, who wanted to go back, `Is this up for debate?' He said, `Yes, you can debate it all the way home.' Senator Stott Despoja, I think that is the reaction you would get if you showed the guidelines to a person who was in control of a scientific laboratory. They would say, `So you've got a set of guidelines.' We have legislation before us here and we have to cast a conscience vote on the merits of that legislation, not on some other legislation that you may have in mind. Senator Brown raised the absolutely practical hurdles that would have to be overcome. If Senator Harradine did listen to you and wanted to proceed to get another piece of legislation on the program, get it through the Senate and then get it through the House of Representatives, he would have absolutely Buckley's chance.

Senator Harradine —It was Senator Brown who made that point.

Senator BOSWELL —I agree with what Senator Brown has said on this. I believe Senator Harradine's amendment deserves support. It is a practical amendment. There are going to be hardship cases in various laboratories where people will be told: `You will do this. If you do not want to do it, there's the door. You don't have to work here. I'm not making you work here.' I believe that Senator Harradine's amendment is a very practical way to overcome these problems and I think it deserves support.