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Tuesday, 5 November 1985
Page: 1582


Senator VANSTONE(10.27) —It is with some regret that I rise to speak in support of this motion. As one of the newer senators in this place, I can clearly remember discussions I had with people in relation to my preselection for the Senate, and one of the things that I raised in favour of the Senate was its committee system and what a wonderful place it is because where there is certain degree of concern over legislation and particular subject matters the Senate committees can handle it. I now find the Australian Democrats, especially one South Australian Democrat, trying to block the referral of this legislation to a committee.


Senator Puplick —Shameful.


Senator VANSTONE —As Senator Puplick said, it is shameful and regrettable. As this legislation will not be proclaimed until some time next year, I can see no valid reason for rushing it through the Senate tonight. I can see no valid reason for rushing it through at any time. I do not see why it should not go to a committee as that obviously would not impair the effect of the legislation.

I would like to make a couple of comments about a public meeting in South Australia to which Senator Vigor referred. He mentioned that there was a meeting where there were over 200 people in attendance. I am sure that I attended the same meeting. Senator Vigor and I must add up differently because I think there were just 100 people at that meeting.


Senator Jessop —Is that the one at which they said that Senator Vigor should not become political?


Senator VANSTONE —Yes, quite. That is exactly right, Senator Jessop. Senator Vigor has told the Senate that that meeting was misled by a pamphlet produced by the Professional Transport Drivers Association of South Australia. He did not tell the Senate that there were two public servants at that meeting to explain the legislation and that, having heard the explanation of the public servants, the meeting was still not happy with the legislation. I regret that Senator Vigor chose to exclude that portion of the activities of the meeting from his comments on the meeting to the Senate. It is not up to me to suggest that the public servants were there because there is now a perceived problem in the industry with this legislation, although one could be excused for saying that the Minister for Transport (Mr Peter Morris) sent these public servants to the meeting because he now realises that the industry is cottoning on to what is happening with this legislation and there is some concern, otherwise one could ask why would he send two public servants to the meeting to explain it. As I have said, I regret that Senator Vigor did not tell the Senate that, after hearing the explanation from the public servants and after reading what he called the misrepresenting leaflet, the meeting was still not happy. Senator Vigor also failed to tell the Senate that the general feeling of people at the meeting was that they were totally unaware of what this package would mean for their industry and that they desperately wanted more time to acquaint themselves with the legislation. They are not trying to get out of the ambit of the legislation; they simply want time to acquaint themselves with it. As I asked earlier, as this legislation will not be proclaimed until next year, why will the Democrats not support a reference to a committee, which would give the industry time to acquaint itself with the Bill, the Senate time to do the Committee job that should be done--


Senator Jessop —And give the States time to consider it.


Senator VANSTONE —And the States time to consider it. I add one more point: At that meeting Senator Vigor said that he probably could organise a delay until 1 December but not past that time because the Democrats had given certain undertakings that would require the legislation to be passed by that time. For the Democrats to offer one month's consultation on this legislation to an industry that is not organised, that has different groups representing it all over the place and has individual sub-contractors, is more than unkind when the Government has had much longer than that. It is probably not appropriate in the Senate for me to use the word that I could use to describe that action. As this legislation will not be proclaimed until next year, I can see no valid reason why it should not be referred to a committee to give the Senate time to peruse it properly and to give the industry time to acquaint itself properly with it.

Debate interrupted.