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Tuesday, 6 March 1984
Page: 479


Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition)(6.19) —I have no wish not to see these amendments expedited. In my speech during the second reading debate I acknowledge the positive way that the Minister for Resources and Energy (Senator Walsh), his office, and his Department responded to various matters which were raised with them. Rather than address the merits of these amendments, I suggest to the Committee that the first page of the explanatory memorandum to the amendments be incorporated in Hansard. That will set out the position of the Opposition. I seek leave to incorporate in Hansard the page headed 'Amendments to the Liquid Fuel Emergency Bill 1983' on the basis that I think it accurately sets out the reasons the Opposition has sought amendments to this Bill and why the Government has agreed to them.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows-

AMENDMENTS TO THE LIQUID FUEL EMERGENCY BILL 1983

The Liquid Fuel Emergency Bill was considered by Legislation Committee on 23 August 1983 against the background of Cabinet Decision 1962 (LEG) of 23 August 1983.

The Bill was introduced into the House of Representatives on 24 August 1983 and passed on 8 September 1983, without amendment. It received its second reading in the Senate, and debate was adjourned, on 13 September 1983.

Amendments

Proposals have been received for three amendments. The Leader of the Opposition in the Senate sought changes to:

clause 16, to require that, before declaring that a liquid fuel emergency exists, the Governor-General shall have regard to, inter alia, the likelihood of the shortage being averted by the voluntary augmenting of supplies by relevant fuel industry corporations;

clause 41 and related provisions, establishing a period of 15 sitting days of each House of the Parliament for disallowance of proposed Guidelines, except during an emergency in which case proposed guidelines would have immediate effect, as do Regulations.

Following discussion with the Attorney-General these amendments were agreed on 17 November 1983.

The third and principal amendment responds to representations from the oil companies, the Australian Institute of Petroleum and the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate seeking provision for compensation where a company, as a result of acting on a direction of the Minister under the Bill, suffers loss, injury or damage substantially greater than that suffered by the community generally, or sections of the community, in dealing with, or preparing for, a liquid fuel shortage.

Directions which may result in such loss, injury or damage may be issued only to relevant liquid fuel industry corporations and the principal source of possible loss identified to date is the power under clauses 12 and 17 to direct the maintenance of fuel reserves.

Office of the Parliamentary Counsel have advised that the existing clause 45, providing for ''acquisition of property'' to be on ''just terms'', while necessary and sufficient to meet constitutional requirements, would not necessarily provide the appropriate basis for compensation to be sought in the circumstances identified in representations.

The amendment to clause 45 proposed to resolve this issue has been raised in correspondence with the Attorney-General and provided for information to the Prime Minister and the Minister for Finance. All have responded with support for the amendment.

A fourth amendment, relating to Clause 3 (Interpretation) is of a minor technical nature only.

Amendments agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.