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Monday, 14 October 1991
Page: 1873


Mr RUDDOCK(9.23 p.m.) —-I strongly support this amendment. It will be a matter pressed by the Opposition. We want to see the sincerity of the members of the Government in relation to this matter. If they are opposed to effective communication, effective liaison and effective dealings with ethnic communities and others whereby advice can be obtained, let it be understood by the way in which they approach this issue.

The honourable member for Calwell (Dr Theophanous) made it very clear that he sees effective consultation as a guideline to this Government. It is a matter in which its word and effectiveness can be judged. He claims a great deal of success in having obtained a shift of the Government's position in relation to certain scheduling changes as a result of more effective communication through ministerial intervention and otherwise.

This particular amendment provides for a structured mechanism for effective community advice to be offered. It is a matter on which the Government clearly ought to be in agreement and accept. We can judge its sincerity in regard to consultative arrangements by the way in which this issue is now dealt with.

I am disappointed in a real sense that while we are looking at this question, which was the subject of quite considerable debate earlier in the night--these questions were put at issue and the honourable member for Calwell was keen to have it understood that he had a view about the importance of community consultation--this issue may be resisted by the Government. We will press it here and we will also press it in the other place. We will certainly ensure that people are aware that there appears to be this unwillingness and inflexibility on the part of the Government.

Question put:

That the proposed new clause (Mr Smith's amendment) be inserted.