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Thursday, 15 June 1989
Page: 4167

Senator COOK (Minister for Resources)(9.11) —On behalf of the Government, I respond to the Australian Democrats' amendment. I must say that I respond with great reluctance because I am a reluctant conscript on this matter. But I understand that there is the Bolkus precedent where a similar amendment was accepted last night on the social security Bill.

Senator Newman —No, veterans affairs Bill.

Senator COOK —Thank you, Senator. Therefore, I think I am bound for consistency's sake to accept it here. However, I do so reluctantly. I just want to put these views on the record: I think this is a precious and pretentious little amendment by the Democrats. This is an example of the Democrats trying to govern all things. If one was going to move an amendment like this, I would have thought that, first of all, one would adduce evidence to establish that the Department does not do this when it is necessary. Of course the Department does this when it is necessary. It provides a phone number for people to ring in from the country to find out what the arrangements are with health insurance, health changes and so on. It does that now. It does not need something to be put into an Act to require that to be done. It is a normal administrative provision. It will continue to do those things in the future. This amendment makes it part of an Act. My view would normally be that it does not have a place in an Act. It is better left to be handled administratively. If necessary, if one is unhappy about those provisions, one should go to the Minister and I am sure that he would make sure that it was done. The principle has been accepted by the Government in another piece of legislation. The Government will accept it reluctantly in this piece of legislation. I say: let us get on with the job and pass the rest of the Bill before the Senate.