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Thursday, 17 December 1992
Page: 5313


Senator BELL (12.35 p.m.) —The Democrats are convinced by the lucid argument of Senator Panizza on this matter and also by its inherent logic. To include a finite amount in legislation, we believe, has attached to it its own perils. As Senator Panizza said towards the end of his contribution, such provisions are becoming outdated rather rapidly and becoming irrelevant in certain particular circumstances.

  I will just take a moment of the Committee's time to illustrate why, in relation to entirely unrelated legislation, I was reminded of that last night. At a dinner for the graduates of the University of Tasmanian I was sitting next to an experienced graduate in law who reminded me of the attempt in Tasmania to remove finite amounts defined in legislation and to replace them with indexes or coded amounts which increased or decreased as the value of money changed in society. It seems ludicrous that we still have in legislation finite amounts such as fines of #20, converted to $40, that are considered relevant. Those sorts of amounts might have been relevant in 1950 when they were first defined, but they have become irrelevant with the passage of time and the change in the value of money. Here we have $1m defined as being seemingly relevant at the moment but, as Senator Panizza has said, it is potentially irrelevant with the passage of only a few years.

  The other explanation that Senator Panizza gave—of the capacity of the industry to meet its own costs in certain circumstances and in certain situations—has been accurately described and surely can also be accurately deliberated on in consultation with the Minister; and that is what is proposed in these amendments. We support the amendments for both those reasons. We believe they improve the legislation and expedite the fair and equitable delivery of what the legislation is trying to deliver. Therefore, we support them.