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Wednesday, 2 May 1984
Page: 1465


Senator DURACK(11.07) —I move, an amendment to that frivolous motion moved by the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans):

Leave out the words 'a later hour this day' and insert 'the next day of sitting '.

It really is quite amazing that the Attorney-General should move a motion in the terms he has, for a resumption of debate on the Insurance Contracts Bill at a later hour this day, when he knows that the will of the Senate is to adjourn the debate. He says that this is an important, and presumably urgent, piece of legislation which must be dealt with today. That is a heap of absolute nonsence and he knows it is. It is an insult to the Senate that he should move the motion in the terms he has.

The fact is that this Bill was introduced by the Attorney-General some months ago-I think it was in December. Its object is to implement a report of the Law Reform Commission on insurance contracts. It is a fairly technical matter and one of enormous importance to the insurance industry and its customers. The Bill was to lie on the table while comments from those concerned with it were obtained. Those comments were received only fairly recently and as a result we were told yesterday that 59 amendments-I stress, 59 amendments-to this legislation are to be moved by the Government. Only today is the Senate in fact in possession of the detail of those amendments.

Admittedly, before the Attorney-General interjects, I received details of the amendments on Monday afternoon, but on a confidential basis. The actual amendments were placed in the public arena only today, and there are 59 of them. Yet we are being asked today to debate the matter. The insurance industry itself has not had sufficient time to consider the amendments. Certainly the Opposition has not had sufficient time to consider them; nor have the Australian Democrats. We have said that we will be prepared to debate this matter next week. I believe that it is a perfectly reasonable proposition. To try to argue that the Senate is obstructing the Government is sheer and utter nonsense. It is an insult to the Senate, and the Attorney-General knows that.