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Friday, 15 November 2002
Page: 6515

Senator VANSTONE (Minister for Family and Community Services and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Status of Women) (1:15 PM) —I think the government has made its position clear. We were happy to have sensible discussions about the bill, but we regard ourselves as having had the rug pulled out from under us at the last minute. We were given a clear indication that, unless in addition to the hundreds of millions of dollars we want to spend in this bill we were prepared to spend another somewhere between $400 million and $700 million in the next budgetary cycle, we would not get the bill in this form and it would be split.

As I indicated, Senator Bishop knows full well—or his party does, if he does not—the consequences of the Senate choosing to split a bill. The House of Representatives will not accept it. I indicated quite clearly that this bill, unamended, will come back for the Senate to reconsider its position, which I very much hope it does, because this is a spending bill. Because you want your way on other issues, to hold up a spending bill is to me a complete folly. To imagine that you can cherry pick and just take the bits that you think are the most beneficial and leave out the others is equally a folly. The bill will come back in its original form.