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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 1070

Senator CHRIS EVANS (Western AustraliaMinister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (17:44): Senator, in good faith I undertook to Senator Ludlam to get further advice because my inclination was to accept the amendment, given that we were at one on the policy intent. Having sought that advice in the break between us dealing with this bill, the legal advice is that we ought not to do it—that it would create difficulties in terms of legal interpretation and potentially lead to litigation. That is the advice I got. On the basis of that advice, the government has made the decision not to support the amendments.

There is no policy argument here. Our view is that the intent that Senator Ludlam's amendments represent is already the law of the land. We will not be agreeing to the amendments, but I cannot add anything further to that. That is the advice we have got. If there were a policy difference I would attempt to resolve that, but there is not. I cannot say it any other way. We have been around the traps on this for a while. We are not going to accept the amendments, but I do not think Senator Ludlam's endeavours or policy purpose is at all damaged by that decision. I do not think the defeat of his amendments will do any damage to the intent he had in moving the amendments.