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Monday, 14 March 2005
Page: 98

Senator CARR (8:00 PM) —Senator Ridgeway has given us an expansive review of why he moved his amendments, which would have been helpful to have a little earlier in the piece. It is true that my office were advised that there were to be Democrat amendments. We were not, however, fortunate enough to actually see those amendments until a few minutes ago. So I must say it is again a disappointment to me that there was not a little bit more speed with which these matters were prepared so that we would have a chance to assess them more fully. In general terms, we will be supporting amendments (3) and (4) and we will oppose the rest. The guts of what I have to say is that some of Senator Ridgeway’s amendments are essentially frivolous. To change the title of the bill might be a good device to make a speech; it is not necessarily helpful in terms of the argument overall. So I must say that to change the title of the bill to the ‘unfair dismissal’ bill is not necessarily in keeping with the finest traditions.

Senator Ridgeway —It’s been done here before.

Senator CARR —It may well have been, but all I can say to you is that I have not been in the fortunate position in the past where I have had to provide advice to my colleagues on this matter. I can say to you that on this occasion I will provide advice to my colleagues, and my advice will be that we will not support that matter. The other matters that go to the no disadvantage test and the requirement for the environment minister and the like do have some merit to them. However, in the case of the no disadvantage test, I do not think that sufficient detail has actually been provided to allow us to support that particular matter. However, we will be supporting the amendment regarding the environment minister’s Indigenous Advisory Committee. I am at a disadvantage to Senator Ridgeway in that I have not had time to consider these matters properly. Under normal circumstances we probably would have requested that the Senate move on to another bill to give us a chance to look at the amendments. That is one of the consequences of presenting material to the chamber in such a rushed manner. Given the way in which this whole bill has been addressed, I think that would probably be a device that the government would look upon and use to its advantage, so I will not be asking the chamber to take that course of action. In general, that is the position of the opposition.