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Monday, 6 December 1999
Page: 12883


Mr HOLLIS (9:33 PM) —I just want to make a short intervention in this moving of amendments. I was sitting in my office, watching the member for Sturt make his speech and then the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration wind up. All I can say is that the parliamentary secretary must not have read my speech or listened to what I said. I supported this legislation all the way through. As for my saying that the government should sit on its hands and so on—and I actually got a copy of the speech that I made two weeks ago and had a look at it—nowhere did I say that. Most of my speech was a little outside the topic of the bill in that I was speaking of ILO 147. In fact, I thought someone would take points of order on me for that reason. But I was speaking of international seafarers and how they should be covered by domestic law, and that this legislation did not go far enough in that respect.

In support of what the honourable member for Denison has said, perhaps we can go back two weeks to that second reading debate on 25 November. At that time the honourable member for Denison spoke first. I had discussed the opposition's stand with him previously—whether or not we were supporting the legislation. The honourable member for Denison had briefed me that, because of that particular area of sovereignty over the Timor Gap—because in the legislation it was claimed to be Indonesia's—we were going to move an amendment.

After the honourable member for Denison had finished his speech, the member for Hughes got up to speak and someone then passed her a piece of paper. During her speech she said, `I have been informed' or `I want to give notice' or whatever the words were `that the government intends to move an amendment to pick up some of the points that the honourable member for Denison has moved.'

At that time the amendments started circulating around the parliament. I was the next speaker and I was on my feet when someone stuck those amendments in front of me. If you look at my speech, you will see that I actually said something like `as for the amendments that are being circulated, obviously I cannot speak for the opposition; the opposition will have a look at these and, if they pick up the points that we're making, I am not sure what we'll do about it'—because I had not discussed the matter and I do not make opposition policy.

The parliamentary secretary at the table then interjected, saying to me, `They should make you happy.' I replied, tongue in cheek, `Well, I'm pleased that the parliamentary secretary thinks they'll make me happy.' But that is the point. We on this side of the chamber had not been apprised at all of what the government intended to do. It was only while the honourable member for Hughes was speaking that a piece of paper was slipped in front of her and she read out what was on it.

The point I am making is that I reject very much what the parliamentary secretary said about my contribution. What I was talking about was a little bit outside the ambit of the legislation, I was talking about why the Australian government had not ratified ILO convention 147, which would have picked up some of the atrocities and crimes that are committed against foreign seafarers in Australia. We can talk about boat people coming into the country and we can talk about such things as those who deal in the cargo of people. But the point I stressed in my first speech on this legislation and which I reiterated today is that, until we ratify ILO 147 and start allowing foreign crews access to Australian domestic law, as far as I am concerned, all these things will be meaningless.

What I did say is that this legislation will have very little impact on foreign nationals coming to this country. Quite frankly, most of my speech was about Glory Cape and why Australia had not ratified ILO 147. I was quite amazed that no-one took a point of order on me and drew me back to the bill, but I was allowed to get away with it for 20 minutes—and who am I to argue with the wisdom of their decision?