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Wednesday, 16 March 2005
Page: 50


Senator CONROY (12:40 PM) —I tend to agree with Senator Cherry that perhaps the minister’s language was a little harsh. These issues, as Senator Cherry has indicated, have been canvassed quite widely in the last few days if not weeks and months. But what does disturb me is something the minister said earlier in her summing up of the second reading debate—that is, she wanted this bill to go through unamended. I take it from that that even modest, sensible proposals will be rejected. It is disappointing that the minister takes the view that the font of all wisdom and knowledge is her office and her department and that even reasonable proposals will be treated with contempt and disdain. This is perhaps an indicator of the arrogance of the Howard government in the lead-up to its gaining control of this chamber, but I would hope that the minister has a more inclusive approach both before and after 1 July so that she does not take the approach that the font of all wisdom exists on her side of the chamber. That would be ultimately to the detriment of democracy in this country. I hope it does not reflect the approach the minister will take in the future.