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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 1002

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (13:25): Senator Ludlam is not usually a conspiracy theorist, but on this occasion I think he is getting pretty close. These no invalidity clauses are very common in legislation. These are fairly standard provisions that are designed to ensure that a technical breach does not invalidate a nomination or selection process. That may include a spelling error. These are standard provisions that are available to us to put into legislation to ensure that those sorts of technical errors can be dealt with through this no invalidity clause.

I note that the senator himself is a sponsor of a bill that contains those clauses. I am not going to run a conspiracy theory that his Government Investment Funds Amendment (Ethical Investments) Bill is really some communist plot. I think he and Senator Di Natale have actually sought to have the bill drafted so that it can be effective—exactly what we are doing here. These are provisions that are contained in other bills. This in no way allows a land council to lawfully nominate land without the consent of the traditional owners. This approach has been found in other bills and applied to land other than Aboriginal land. They are there for good reason. There is no way that a decision on a nuclear waste facility would not have the highest amount of public scrutiny, public debate and, quite frankly, recourse to legal action if any of the parties with an interest in the matter felt that the minister was acting inappropriately or that there was some fault with the processes.

We all know that this is contested space. We all know that those issues would be taken up by those with an interest. This provision is in other legislation. It is not unique to Aboriginal land or land dealt with under this bill. It has been used in relation to the Torrens title system and, as I say, it is contained in a bill that Senator Ludlam himself proposes to the Senate. While I understand his concerns, these amendments, quite frankly, just limit the effectiveness of the bill and the government cannot support them. I can assure him that there is no way that these are designed other than to make the legislation effective. They do not at all undermine the proper processes that are contained in the bill.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN ( Senator Fawcett ): The question is that amendment (3) on sheet 7037 be agreed to.

Question negatived.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN: The question now is that subclauses 6(5), 8(4), 9(6), 15(2) and 17(6) stand as printed.

Question agreed to.