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Thursday, 5 December 2002
Page: 7258


Senator CHRIS EVANS (11:53 AM) —I indicate formally on behalf of the ALP that we will not be supporting the amendment either, for the reasons outlined in part by the minister. I know that these are the dying stages of the bill, but effectively we have heard an argument which seeks to maintain a situation where we do not have nationally consistent legislation but where the states are able to have different legislation. That is really what this argument is about. The states have agreed to try and get a nationally consistent approach to overcome the difficulties posed by different state regulations encouraging people to move between states.

Really, what Senator Barnett put was a plea to maintain different state regimes. It is a plea put by someone who opposed the second reading of this bill and who hopes to maintain that position in other states. I understand his position. That is fine; that is his view. But I always get concerned when senators come in here and start arguing the `states house' argument. It is like what they say about the last refuge of a scoundrel: it is used when it suits; we suddenly become a states house. When my good colleague Senator Collins almost got to that point—


Senator Jacinta Collins —I didn't say that!


Senator CHRIS EVANS —No, you did not quite get there. Her concern was for democratic process, which is the second last stage, I think! The fact is that the premiers went into that meeting knowing exactly what they were doing. One of them just got re-elected with a whopping increased majority. In the end, the states will get to consider their complementary legislation. No doubt there will be arguments inside those parliaments and they will come up with what they will. I do not want to go on, because I know that there are other amendments in this section that people do not have the chance to speak to. We ought to deal with the Realpolitik of this. We have a chance here to shape the legislation as we see fit, and the states will get their opportunity to deal with their commitment to complementary legislation. We will be opposing Senator Barnett's amendment.