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Monday, 11 November 1991
Page: 2859

Senator COLLINS (Minister for Shipping and Aviation Support) (8.39 p.m.) —I do not think there is any point in pursuing this to the point of tedium. I will be moving the Government's amendment with the support of the Democrats because I think the Opposition's amendment is one of the silliest amendments that I have seen. The reason that we have broadened it—Senator Alston will appreciate this, and I reassert that I do not think he believes a word of what he is saying in respect of support—

Senator Alston —Leave that out of it and get on with it. It is irrelevant to the debate.

Senator COLLINS —I do not believe he does; it is totally irrelevant to the position I am putting here. All I am saying is that I am not going to pursue this to the point of tedium. However, it is important to assert why the Government is moving to broaden this. We would make this Parliament look very foolish indeed if we actually set up a committee—appointed members to sit on it—that will simply advise a professional board, as no doubt it will, on the measures it needs to take to consult the community. It is just a totally unnecessary clutter.

Senator Alston —So what are you about to do?

Senator COLLINS —As I indicated before, I would have been happy if both of these amendments had been withdrawn. In respect of the complaint that Senator Alston lodged about prior notice, the reason for that is very simple; I explained it at tedious length, and I am sorry to have to do it again. Our preferred position was not to move the amendment at all. Had the Opposition seen the pointlessness of moving its own, we would not have proceeded with it.

  If one is going to appoint people—this is a point that Senator Coulter appreciates—who, no doubt, would have to be eminent people in the community, to sit on a committee that is going to be a permanent committee, we want them at least to have a job of work to do; that is, we do not just want them to be appointed and then to meet again. I imagine the committee would be entirely different by the time it had to be called back in three years time. If there is going to be a permanent consultative committee, let it be a committee that has an ongoing role in community consultation.

  I conclude by saying that I am disappointed that the Opposition cannot see the wisdom of continuing with its original position and withdrawing both sets of amendments. We will now move all of the amendments contained on our schedule to set up this committee for the purpose stated. This is the important difference. Our proposed subclause 49(2) states:

The function of the Committee is to assist the Board—

that is, on an ongoing basis—

to fulfil its duty under paragraph 10(1)(g) by advising the Board on community needs and opinions, including the needs and opinions—

and so on. This will be a permanent committee which will have an ongoing advisory role to the board as it sees fit. I formally move:

(1)Clause 3, page 2, after definition of "Charter", insert the following definition:

  "`Community Advisory Committee' means the Community Advisory Committee established under section 49;".

  Amendment agreed to.

  Clause, as amended, agreed to. 3

  Clauses 4 to 9—by leave—taken together, and agreed to.

  Clause 10.