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Monday, 13 October 2008
Page: 5839

Senator SIEWERT (9:11 PM) —I do not see the merit in some of these provisions. I do not see the merit in the ministerial council being able to direct Safe Work Australia to make specified alterations to its strategic plan. This is not just about putting something in place to deal with unforeseen circumstances in the future. I would have thought you could have written that particular clause differently if that was the intent. But this is clearly designed to override the final strategic and operational plans of Safe Work Australia.

Admittedly, the Greens were planning to move stronger amendments in terms of dealing with the draft. But we thought, no, let us give the opposition their due. The opposition did not want to go as far as that, and we thought that was fair enough. On some of the amendments the opposition are making, we were prepared to not go in as hard on the draft process as we had planned. But, when it comes to these final strategic and operational plans, it is quite clear that a cosy deal has been done between the states and territories and the Commonwealth to allow the ministerial council to override Safe Work Australia whenever it feels like it. There are no riders on this particular clause. It allows for specified alterations to Safe Work Australia’s strategic plan and requires that they give the altered plan to the council within the period specified in the direction. It is quite clear about the way it overrides Safe Work Australia. We do not think that is appropriate legislation. We do not think it should be given a tick. We do not think that particular clause is merited. The coalition seem to be agreeing with us.

Senator Parry —We do; we are; we agree.

Senator SIEWERT —They are agreeing with us. Quite clearly, the majority of the Senate in committee does not think this clause has merit.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Forshaw)—The question is that Greens amendment (1) on sheet 5593 be agreed to.

Question agreed to.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —We now have opposition amendments (2), (3), (4), (5) and (6) and Australian Greens amendment (2), which is identical to opposition amendment (6). In relation to the discussion that occurred earlier, Senator Abetz, where you sought advice from the clerks, I would put to you that the opposition could proceed to move, by leave, the three sets of amendments, (2) to (6). The questions will need to be put separately. As the Australian Greens amendment (2) is exactly the same as the opposition amendment (6) it would presumably then not need to be proceeded with, depending upon the outcome of the vote. So I now invite you, Senator Abetz, to move your three amendments together by leave, if that is the wish of the chamber.