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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 7946

Senator VANSTONE (Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women) (5:50 PM) — Just for the sake of simplicity and ease, it might speed things up if I indicate that the government will support all of the opposition amendments on revised sheet 2791 and none of the opposition amendments on sheet 2688. That leads me to the second point that is worth making at this point. Senator Bishop said the government was not prepared to entertain any amendments when this bill was last before the chamber. That is not correct, either strictly speaking or in any other form. We were interested in talking about some amendments. We were not willing, and we remain unwilling, to discuss amendments to the breaching system for reasons that I made clear last time.

We have made some announcements and put some changes into place. I think the breaching in the quarter we have just finished is something like 35 per cent down on that quarter in the previous year. We have certainly had a 30 per cent drop off in breaches on a year-to-year basis. We believe our breaching changes should be given the opportunity to be properly assessed before people assume that they are not working. So we were prepared to entertain the amendments, but not those that are now outlined on sheet 2688, and we remain that way. The reason we did not get to that point is that the bill was then split. I say that for the sake of keeping the record straight. I will try to take up as little of the Senate's time as possible by simply indicating that we will support all of the amendments on sheet 2791 and none of the amendments on sheet 2688.