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Wednesday, 13 November 2002
Page: 6285

Senator CHRIS EVANS (8:01 PM) —It may be helpful if I indicate that, from the comments expressed around the chamber, there is a clear view that there will be wide interest in making sure that the review is broader and more public than any narrow interpretation of the provisions might indicate. That is a message that the minister ought to take on board. I do not think that it is necessary to amend the bill. I do not necessarily agree with the narrowness of the interpretations made by some senators, but it is fair to say—and I expressed this, as did Senator Stott Despoja in response to the arguments of Senator Bishop and others— that we accept and support the need for a broad inquiry, obviously with as much participation and involvement as possible.

It is important that the minister takes that message. I am not moving an amendment, but she ought to take that as the spirit of the committee's expression on these issues. Senator Stott Despoja and I have indicated on behalf of our respective parties that we see this as a role for the Senate if required. I suppose that comes down to whether people are satisfied about whether the review process is appropriate and thorough. As I said, I am not supporting an amendment to the bill, but it is a message that the minister ought to take on board as an expression of the view of the committee. The alternative, if it is not taken on board and if people are not satisfied, is that the Senate has the power to initiate its own inquiries at a later date.