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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 7946

Senator MARK BISHOP (5:48 PM) —These amendments seek to amend the terms of agreement and breach arrangement for parenting payment recipients. Labor are sympathetic to the Democrats' concerns about agreement terms and breaches for PP recipients, but we decline to support these amendments. Labor believe the safeguards we will be moving will remedy deficiencies in the bill and should result in very few, if any, parents being breached. In relation to the changes to breach penalties, we have our own amendments on sheet 2688, which for consistency's sake also extend to penalties for other payment types. The Democrat amendments seeking a differential breach rate structure will add complexity where there is no need to do so.

By way of advice on a process matter to Senator Cherry, we have indeed looked at the amendments circulated in his name. A lot of them are very similar, if not identical, to amendments to be moved by the opposition at a later stage. The common ground in the philosophical roots of the ALP amendments and, from our understanding, the Democrat amendments is the Pearce report, so there is no great divergence of perspective there. We are simply more comfortable with retaining the structure that we have developed. We will work sequentially in respect of each amendment because we know that if they go through in that form we will have covered the critical areas. That is just by way of advice. For those reasons, we probably will not accept the amendments that you have outlined.