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Wednesday, 9 September 2015
Page: 6409


Senator CONROY (VictoriaDeputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (15:22): I indicate that the opposition will not be supporting this motion. We do accept the general view that has been put that there should be a parliamentary discussion on this. In fact, we made this point very strongly to the government today. What we would prefer is, as was promised by then Minister Johnston in this chamber, regular updates. It has been a while since we have had an update, and I call on the government to provide to the chamber an update. I appreciate that the Minister for Defence is no longer in this chamber, but it could be provided by a senator on behalf of the government. That would then allow a discussion of deployments and the expansion of our activities. I think that would be entirely appropriate.

The government has made that commitment—the former minister made that commitment—and I urge the government to clear some time in the parliamentary schedule, by negotiation or from its own time, to enable all of the senators in this chamber to discuss and debate this issue. It would be a healthy thing for the parliament and a healthy thing for our country if there were an ability for people to express their views. There will be many differing points of view, but the chamber, the parliament and the country will be better for hearing those views. So I urge the government to consider making a statement, perhaps on Thursday, which would allow us to have some discussion and debate during the course of the afternoon. With deference to my colleagues in the Greens, I cannot indicate support for your proposition, but I encourage the government to look at setting aside some time for a genuine discussion in this chamber.