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Wednesday, 29 November 2000
Page: 20155

Senator TROETH (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (5:05 PM) —In answer to Senator O'Brien's query, the reason that that power is now vested in the secretary is that it is a regulatory impact, if you like, or something which needs to be regulated by a regulator, I suppose you could say, rather than a company, which at the moment happens to be the Australian Horticultural Corporation. Because it is seen as a regulatory office or a regulatory function, it was deemed that that was best vested in the secretary.

To return to your earlier comments, I understand perfectly the argument you are putting to me, so I would not like it thought that I was attempting to divert the point of the argument. I do understand that the point you are making is about the power of the minister and the parliamentary processes which should and will occur. I simply return to my earlier point that none of those parliamentary processes have changed, that there is the whole gamut of parliamentary scrutiny which can and no doubt will take place. I have never yet noticed that a Senate committee which is intent on pursuing a particular point of scrutiny or undertaking scrutiny of a particular action or whatever is able to be diverted from its course. That is still perfectly possible, and I am sure that in the future it may well take place. I would also like to point out to Senator O'Brien that this actual letter to me from the Scrutiny of Bills Committee indicated that the point of making the minister's powers as they were may be a breach—may be a breach. I will simply leave it at that.