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Thursday, 12 December 2002
Page: 8081

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation) (3:19 AM) —The government is entitled to put its view on an amendment that has been moved. That is the way amendments are dealt with in this chamber. Chairmen go around every party to see what their views are before a vote is called.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Bolkus)—You have got the call, Senator Ian Macdonald.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Thank you, Chair. I only make that point to again urge Senator O'Brien to adopt my proposal that he seek instructions from Mr Kelvin Thomson. I am not trying to put you in a difficult position, Senator O'Brien. I know you understand these issues and understand the importance of forestry to Tasmania.

Senator O'Brien —It's not forestry.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —It is not a forestry issue; I agree with that. But you understand these issues very well. Four days ago Mr Thomson said this was clearly a matter that had to go to review, and today his Senate colleagues are ignoring him. Four days ago Mr Thomson understood the question. He understood the problem; he knew what it was about. That is why he said that this is a matter that should be reviewed. I cannot believe that Mr Thomson's Senate colleagues would go against the shadow minister's clear expression that this was to be referred to the review. There cannot be anything clearer. It is there in black and white. I have the transcript of Mr Thomson's speech here. Not only does he say that he and the Labor Party will be supporting the government's bill; he says that he clearly understands why there is a need to refer this to the review, that it is not something that should be legislated for.

One would almost think that the Labor senators here are overturning Mr Thomson's view for some reason that cannot be explained. If this view prevails then come 14 February we are not going to have any effective legislation at all to deal with renewable energy. Is that what this chamber wants? Senator Brown, is that what you want? It might not be perfect—

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN — Senator Macdonald, could you please go through the chair.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Mr Temporary Chairman, I say to Senator Brown that this may not be perfect, but does Senator Brown want nothing—

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Are you saying you are supporting it?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN — Senator Macdonald, do not take interjections. Go through the chair and concentrate on what you want to say.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —That is why it is so important that we follow Mr Kelvin Thomson's approach, that we do actually refer this to the committee. This five per cent issue should go to the review. It is important. Mr Thomson understood it. The consequence of ignoring Mr Thomson's express words is that we will not have any effective legislation to deal with renewable energy. I know that the Labor senators do not intend that. I know that Senator Allison and the Democrat senators do not intend that. But that is what is going to happen.

Senator Mackay —That's your problem.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Oh, that's my problem, is it?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN — Senator Macdonald, do not take interjections. Senator Mackay!

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Mr Temporary Chairman, it is not my call. The call is—

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN — Senator Macdonald, I have asked you not to take interjections. Please concentrate on what you want to talk about. We are about to move to another amendment.

Senator IAN MACDONALD —Thank you for your considerable help, Mr Chair. It is very important that we do understand that this is the call of the Senate. Does the chamber follow what Mr Thomson asked for, understood and argued for not four days ago, or do we ignore Mr Thomson and do something different, without explanation? I again plead with the Democrats and the Labor Party to do what Mr Thomson knew had to be done. He knew it was right. He said it not four days ago. He has had no change of mind. He has not explained it to us. The consequence of proceeding with this or any other amendment is such that we are not going to have any legislation.

Question agreed to.