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Monday, 25 October 2010
Page: 680

Senator COLBECK (7:57 PM) —I rise to make a contribution on behalf of the coalition on the National Measurement Amendment Bill 2010. On the face of it, it looks like an innocuous piece of legislation, but what it really does is demonstrate the government’s approach to legislation and its lack of capacity to actually get things done. Noting that this bill has been sitting around since before the election and before the provisions of the 2008 amendments to this act were to come into place on 1 July, what this bill does is to amend the legislation again. I reflect on a comment by former Prime Minister Rudd, who said something along the lines of, ‘We want the government to be central in every person’s life.’ This bill actually puts that into place. The minister was effectively responsible for administering and deciding upon every little piece of activity under the legislation. In the real world, where industries to be affected by this legislation were seeing what was going to happen, it was found that it was not practical. So here we are amending the legislation just months after it came into effect on 1 July this year. Had we got to the legislation before the election, it would in fact have been amended before the legislation came into effect.

It is effectively innocuous legislation, but it does demonstrate the government’s desire to be intrinsically involved in everything that people in Australia do. Fortunately, in this circumstance, the concerns of industry have been taken into account, and that will no longer occur. So, quite sensibly, the provisions that will remove the government’s involvement in deciding a number of processes for sampling procedures and test procedures will be now done within the National Measurement Institute rather than by the minister.

We need to consider the practicalities when we are dealing with these pieces of legislation. The opposition is quite happy to pass this piece of legislation but it urges the government to consider the practicalities of getting things done when it is drafting its legislation. It is not necessary to be involved at the heart of everybody’s lives when making decisions. We can devolve some responsibility to people who sensibly can make those decisions and remove that level of red tape and time that would be taken if all of these things were sent to the minister in the decision-making process. We should facilitate the doing of business in our economy. The opposition indicates its support for the legislation.