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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31670

Mr ROSS CAMERON (Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer) (1:57 PM) —I move:

That the amendments be not made.

In passing this important legislation, the Senate requested a number of amendments with the intent of limiting the reduction in the maximum surcharge rates to 10 per cent, compared with the government's original proposal of 7.5 per cent. However, the government is aware that the amendments do not reflect the Senate's intention.

Mr Crean —Don't tell me you've mucked it up! You've abolished the surcharge altogether.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. I.R. Causley)—Order! The member for Hotham will have an opportunity.

Mr ROSS CAMERON —The member's colleagues in the Senate have produced an outcome which the government would very greatly prefer to the one which we are going to allow. But, in an act of good faith—

Mr Crean —Oh, yeah.

Mr ROSS CAMERON —It is quite correct—the member for Hotham interjects. It is my understanding that, were we to accept the Senate's amendments, the embarrassment would not be on the government side.

Mr Crean —Where would you get the money?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The member for Hotham will have an opportunity if he wishes—that is, if he is still here.

Mr ROSS CAMERON —As an act of good faith and as a gesture of kindness on the part of the government, we are going to reject the current amendments and return the bill to the Senate so that it can consider further amendments which will operate to better reflect the Senate's wishes. Notwithstanding this procedural complexity, the government wish to ensure that the bill is passed into law today and that the significant benefits of the co-contribution and most of the government's surcharge rate reductions are delivered to working Australians.