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Tuesday, 27 November 2012
Page: 9918


Senator SCULLION (Northern TerritoryDeputy Leader of The Nationals) (20:09): Thank you for that, Parliamentary Secretary. Again, without criticising you—I understand we are not in the circumstances that we would like to be and we would all like to have had more time to truly appreciate the task of drawing up this legislation within the Commonwealth powers. I acknowledge it has been difficult and I thank you for your frank and helpful answers.

We just do not have time to go through the amendments. We have far more amendments than we have time for, even to go through them briefly. These are the lumpy bits of the legislation that would stand out even to a boat hand like me and that I thought needed a little bit of sunlight.

If this legislation only captures people who are incorporated, the capacity for them to slip out of incorporation, to be existing sole traders or to be existing partners, means that this legislation will have no impact at all on those people. I am simply saying that it will not have any impact on them in the sense of the corporation powers. Perhaps they can be caught by some other aspect of the legislation, but it certainly will not be able to impact on people who are transporting or supplying fuel. There are a number of sole traders and a number of partnerships who run up and down the highway and deliver fuel. In terms of people who supply fuel, quite clearly, there is a reliance on the corporations power, and whatever the answer can be it is nowhere near as tight as saying, 'If you live in this area, we do not care if you are a corporation, a natural person, a sole trader or a partnership.' It is just poor legislation. I know that nobody is motivated by ill will here. It is just that it is second-class legislation; it really is. It only captures people who are, in effect, an incorporated body, and I suspect those people who have been avoiding this for some time will ensure that they will do it again.

In terms of recommendation 5, the volatile substance abuse act: Parliamentary Secretary, I can promise you, through the work that I have done and the conversations that I have had—as well as the ones the minister has had, because this is supposed to be a genuine bipartisan process—that the Volatile Substance Abuse Prevention Act of the Northern Territory is an act that is currently being amended to ensure that we can forensically capture all of the mischief that we find. It is terrific that this legislation says, 'Well, if that comes up, this will not be necessary.'

I understand from your answers that the issues of quantifying an area do not destroy the legislation, but these are real issues. As Senator Siewert indicated, in terms of the declaration and the movement of fuel in the area, whether it is Urandangi or Lake Nash—and that is actually in a different direction; it is coming from Queensland into the Northern Territory—and in saying that we have to have the consultation in broader areas, it all takes longer and it is all very muddled, it is like that simply because the Commonwealth is not equipped to do things that state and territory governments, and probably even local governments, could do even better. Whilst I am illuminated by your answer in terms of the expert panel, I certainly have a different sense. I think they were specifically talking about the legislation and the race powers we are using today. Yes, they said we should have something different, but they do not want this.

I should not be surprised, because this was all that was left. No doubt that the government was told, 'By the way, you are going to have to do this tomorrow.' I had an hour and 10 minutes—it was not two minutes to midnight; I want to be accurate—but I probably would have said, 'Well, what else have we got? The race power? Well, whatever.' But this is a very significant and serious Commonwealth power and it really begs the question of whether we are now moving into saying, 'Well, if you now to place murder, now, instead of being a criminal matter for a state or territory, murder of a person—including murder of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait islander person—immediately triggers Commonwealth powers under which we can legislate—

Senator McLucas: This is silly!

Senator SCULLION: No, I'm sorry; it is not silly at all. It is silly because this is without precedent. We are talking about dealing with retail outlets. In any event, this is very poor legislation. It is a very serious matter, but I would still like to acknowledge, despite my reticence, the goodwill in terms of the motivation.

I have been very annoyed by this process, as the senators will probably imagine, but I know that nobody has been motivated by ill will. I think that it has been a complete waste of time. We could have worked together on this as we have done in the past. Instead, we are somehow saying that the Greens have had a victory. Sadly, this is second-class legislation for our First Australians and I do not think that the provision of second-class legislation for our First Australians is acceptable. We will not be supporting this legislation.

The CHAIRMAN: Order! The time allotted for the remaining stages of the bill has expired. The question now is that government amendments (1), (5) and (6), (9), (11) and (12), (14) to (17) and (19) to (23) on sheet CA238 be agreed to.