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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 7866


Senator ELLISON (Minister for Justice and Customs) (12:35 PM) —The government opposes the Democrat amendment for a number of reasons. Briefly, questions relating to state laws are matters for the states. I reiterate my comment that it is interesting to see that the opposition has criticised this bill for a number of reasons—excess power and not enough protection of individuals—but you do not hear the opposition talking about the provisions of the states, particularly New South Wales. The inconsistency there just shows a lack of seriousness in the attitude of the opposition to this whole question. We do not need another reference to a committee. We have had three inquiries so far—two dealt with by Senate committees and one by a parliamentary joint committee. This has had exposure rarely seen by legislation in the federal parliament. We agree that it is serious legislation, but we cannot agree to another reference to a committee.

I also indicate strongly that the government opposes the amendments which have been made to this bill, but in the interests of the bill going back to the other place for consideration we will not be opposing the bill in its amended form for risk of achieving a majority and killing the bill in the Senate. We want to see the bill go back to House of Representatives so it can be reconsidered. When it does come to the third reading we will be under protest supporting a bill that has been amended by amendments that we do not support. Just so it is made clear, that is the government's position and that is why we are taking that course of action.