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Wednesday, 29 June 1994
Page: 2270

Senator CROWLEY (Minister for Family Services) (12.33 p.m.) —Senator Patterson is opposed to bad spelling but will support the amendments. Is that correct?

Senator Patterson —That is absolutely correct. And I hate split infinitives as well.

Senator CROWLEY —The government can only reiterate that it will oppose these amendments, as worded, very strongly. They, in fact, will not do what Senator Woodley wants them to do. They will not have the intended effect in all cases. Rather than worry about bad spelling, I think it is important that the committee should be aware that, in this case, what we are dealing with is insufficient drafting.

  On the advice given to me, even the intent of what Senator Woodley wants to do will not happen with these amendments as drafted. As drafted, the amendments would require payment in some cases to people who would no longer qualify for jobsearch or newstart allowance. It is quite curious that these amendments would require payment for some people who are no longer eligible.  It creates a precedent for other recipients, and it would also have severe financial implications, as I said before.

  The most important thing is that the amendments as drafted do not do what Senator Woodley intends them to do. If they are passed in this place, the government will then have to bring back an amendment to draft them according to the intent—I think that is a fair way of saying it. I think the intention is understood. If the amendments pass, the government is going to have to redraft them and bring back an amendment.

  It seems to me that a preferred way to go would be to not proceed to support these amendments now; firstly, and particularly, because they are not going to do what is intended, and secondly, because of the government's intent to see if this cannot be given effect through administrative changes. Indeed, the Minister for Social Security (Mr Baldwin) has said that he will work very closely with the welfare rights people on this matter. In light of the sympathetic way in which the government has understood the intent of the amendments, and the fact that they are badly drafted, I urge the committee's reconsideration.