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Wednesday, 11 August 2004
Page: 26234


Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) (9:45 PM) —I do not think I can give the assurance that Senator Harris is seeking. The circumstances of each and every individual differ and, therefore, each and every individual will be differently affected by this agreement and its implementation. The way the Australian government have approached it is to seek improved access to the United States market and, in doing so, to secure a range of different areas that we are not prepared to compromise. In other words, it is a two-way agreement. Each side is seeking improved access and each side has got to give some concessions to achieve that, but each side has also determined no-go areas. We obviously think that the balance is not only fair but that there is significant benefit in the balance for Australia. We need look no further than the advice we have that there should be created, as a result of this agreement, an extra 30,000 jobs. But, as we debated earlier today, individual sectors of the economy will be differently affected.

I do not think that I can give an assurance in the terms that Senator Harris is seeking. I guess that the fact I cannot give it is part of the reason that he is voting against the bills. There is not much that I can do about that. I do not think I will be able to persuade him at this late stage, but I do emphasise that these are decisions that we have taken in what we assess to be the national interest. They have been taken with a lot of care, after long and complex negotiation and subject to extended parliamentary scrutiny, and we have seen nothing in all of that process to suggest to us that we have got the balance wrong.