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Wednesday, 11 August 2004
Page: 26235

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) (9:50 PM) —Again, when Senator Harris talks about rights, I am not sure exactly what he means. Obviously the Acts Interpretation Act stands. It is not affected by these changes. His interpretation of those provisions might not be the same as mine, but that is a different issue. There are protections in the Constitution in relation to expropriation of property. That is not affected by this. But I am sure there will be individuals that are affected in their businesses. One of the purposes of these very lengthy parliamentary inquiries is to drill down into the depths of individual industry sectors, professions and other occupations and make these judgments.

I repeat what I said when we were discussing the manufacturing industry earlier today: there are those who believe that sections of the manufacturing industry will be disadvantaged, and there are others who see huge new opportunities for other sections of the manufacturing industry in Australia and a significant net benefit to that sector in terms of jobs. If Senator Harris is asking me to give him an assurance that I can be confident that no single individual will find himself or herself in any way disadvantaged, I do not think I can do that. What I can say is that in the critical areas such as quarantine, the environment, the cultural sector—which we have talked about so much—and health care we believe that we have not only protected Australian interests but also not given anything up. These were our no-go zones, and we were able to hold to those no-go zones. We might not have got all the advantages we wanted to get out of the negotiation, but we did not have to concede a no-go zone. We refer to those as the critical areas where, if we had made concessions, Australians would have lost the significant advantages or protections that they have today. We are confident, as I have said so often in this chamber, that in those critical areas we have been able to protect all pre-existing interests of Australians.