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Monday, 2 December 2002
Page: 6902


Senator HOGG (10:08 PM) —I now move amendment (R6) on 2720 revised:

(R6) Clause 16, page 14 (after line 8), at the end of the clause, add:

(7) For the purposes of this Division and Divisions 4 and 5 of this Act, regulations must be made prescribing matters that may constitute a conflict of interest for a member of the NHMRC Licensing Committee.

Having just adopted that important proposal that there is no conflict of interest, I think it is also equally important that there be regulations prescribing matters that may constitute a conflict of interest for a member of the NHMRC Licensing Committee. This is new ground; it is new law and it seems to me that in the first instance it is not an unreasonable situation to request, through legislation, that regulations be made in respect of the issue of conflict of interest. This legislation is not going to be a burden. Undoubtedly regulations will be made and, in the fullness of time, like all regulations, they will be a disallowable instrument. The fate of many disallowable instruments or regulations in this place is that very few of them fail indeed. So it seems to me that it sends out a very strong and a very solid message for having a strict regulatory regime.

In my view, that was at the nub of the COAG agreement. The COAG agreement was very strong in that sense in talking about a strict regulatory regime. It seems to me that this is not an unreasonable request or an unreasonable issue to be put into this piece of legislation. It is not going to detract from it in any way. It is simply going to lead to clarity, to certainty, to transparency and to accountability. On all those grounds I think it is a reasonable proposition for the chamber to adopt.