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Thursday, 17 December 1992
Page: 5466


Senator TAMBLING (Deputy Leader of the National Party of Australia) (1.20 a.m.) —It is very indicative that we are dealing with this legislation at such a late hour on the last day of the sittings in the calendar year, and possibly the last day in the term of this Government. Unfortunately, as has become the practice, the Government seems to schedule primary industry and rural affairs matters, whether it is in the Appropriations debate or for Senate consideration, at a very late stage and late hour. It is now 1.20 in the morning and we are being forced to consider, as Senator Lees has said, very complex legislation and very complex amendments. Senator Lees gave us an indication a day or so ago of the area she wished to pursue but the amendments were not made available to us in their present form until just before Question Time this afternoon.

  It would be the coalition's policy to move towards grants and we would certainly intend to do that following the next election, which will not be that far away. We are sick and tired of amending the Government's mistakes in legislation. That is made obvious by the fact that the Democrats have had so many problems in drafting the technical amendments to this legislation. The Minister has possibly indicated that there is no guarantee that the Government would accept any of these amendments at this time.

  The National Farmers Federation was not consulted about these amendments. That is an important consideration. It certainly wants to see the legislation proceed. The fact that this consultation has not occurred, the fact of the complexity and the manner in which these amendments are being foisted on us at the very last minute, and the fact that our policies are clear—and it will be very much a matter of supporting the farmers—mean that in this instance we will certainly not support the amendments.