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Tuesday, 10 February 2015
Page: 349

Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (17:57): I am glad that Senator Wang is here, because it would be good for him to answer some questions about his own amendment, which he has not spoken on at all. He has moved it but has not been here for the debate at all. I have put some questions to the minister that he has refused to answer, so I now put those questions to Senator Wang since it is his amendment. Number 1: the University of New South Wales has indicated in its submission that it will see a substantial reduction in its research effort if this legislation is to pass and that in fact 30 per cent of its research effort currently relies on what the university gets in relation to this particular provision on research and development. I would like to ask Senator Wang: what consultation have you had with universities around the country as to the impact of this legislation on their research effort? I can ask through you, Mr Chairman—

The CHAIRMAN: Senator Milne, could you resume your seat.

Senator O'Sullivan: Mr Chairman, I rise on a point of order. I seek clarification from the chair on this issue. The time of the Senate is valuable, and I know of no capacity or precedent for one senator to seek a question of another senator in the chamber.

The CHAIRMAN: It is quite in order, Senator O'Sullivan. There is no point of order.

Senator MILNE: It is quite normal practice in the committee state of a bill, if someone raises an amendment and puts it to the Senate, for them to speak to their own amendments, so I am putting this question very clearly.

Universities around the country, in conjunction with institutions like the CSIRO and with small businesses, benefit enormously from large corporations spending money in the research and development area. So I am asking: what consultation has been done with universities around the country, for a start, as to what impact this will have, firstly, on their research effort and, secondly, on CSIRO?

I think this is critical. We are seeing $1.1 billion taken out of research and development, and I think that the person who is moving for this particular change to the way that this would be determined should answer some questions about the consultation on the impact on the universities, since the government will not. We know that the government wrote the amendment for Senator Wang, but nevertheless it is his amendment, and I would like an answer to the question from either the minister or Senator Wang.