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Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Page: 12536

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (17:07): As I was saying just prior to question time, the coalition agrees with and supports the principle of cost recovery. However, the concern that has been quite rightly expressed, not just by us but also by a number of those who follow these matters closely, particularly within the industry, is about the manner in which the government has moved in this regard, without allowing adequate preparation or warning. I highlight that point. As I said at the outset, we will not be opposing this bill. As I also said, the bill was introduced back in August and was subject to an economics committee inquiry. Many of the witnesses before that committee made the points that the government had rushed to introduce the bill, there had not been adequate discussion about the regulations that would apply and much of the detail upon which the new regime would operate was missing when the government introduced the bill.

First of all, I will highlight a couple of contributions that were made during that inquiry. In fact, the view that I have been expressing on behalf of the coalition was echoed by a number of participants. Mrs Mitchell from RBS Morgans said:

... The timing of the bill was unusual, given there was so much still to be settled.

We suggest that a consultation process should see its natural course before this bill is passed—

by the parliament. I note that the government, since the introduction of the bill, has begun to move at snail's pace. There has been a consultation period. I also note that the closing date for submissions on the exposure draft was Monday of this week. That is my understanding.

We just say that the government should heed the warnings that were aired during the inquiry. We have to say that the track record and the field evidence in this regard is that government does not get the detail right when it comes to these matters—rushing, not getting the detail right and not listening to the sorts of concerns that have been raised. We raise that here and we make that point. The government needs to be cognisant of that. If it transpires that the regulations themselves are defective in any way, the government will not be able to say that these issues had not been raised.

As I said at the outset, we are not opposing this bill. We support the principle of cost recovery, but we want to make sure that, as that principle is enacted, it is done in a way that does not cause an unnecessary burden to industry through lack of preparation and warning on some of the detail. We will not be opposing the bill. On behalf of the opposition, I commend it to the House.