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Tuesday, 15 December 1992
Page: 5042

Senator TATE (Minister for Justice) (6.17 p.m.) —The Government will not be supporting this amendment. We believe it is important that the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia expresses its view as to the proper structure for the Medicare agreements mark III to be negotiated within this framework and understanding. We believe that the States will have confidence in the agreements that are finalised in, I hope, the near future only if they know that the Parliament has very definitely given its imprimatur to the law set out in this legislation which, when passed, will receive royal assent.

  As I say, this will give a certainty not hitherto available to the States, the Territories and the Commonwealth in the negotiating process that is still to be undertaken. Many months of consultation and deliberation between the various parties has already occurred, despite Senator Patterson's dismissal of the consultations which she characterises as being either trivial or non-existent. In fact, they have been extensive. We believe that the passage of this Bill will give a certain structure to the framework and foundation of the Medicare agreements. The certainty that is thereby engendered will enable the States and Territories to assent more willingly to the agreements which are sought to be achieved.