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Friday, 17 December 1993
Page: 4969

Senator TEAGUE (12.28 p.m.) —I rise briefly at this final point of our consideration of the six education bills to say to the chamber, those who will read this Hansard and those in the gallery that what we have seen in the few hours last evening and in these few hours this morning is, in my view, the chamber at its best.

  We have seen nine substantial amendments put by the opposition and a major package of amendments put by the Democrats. We have seen 6 1/2 out of nine of the opposition amendments on these six bills—they are very significant amendments—adopted by a majority. On this occasion, one package of amendments put by the Democrats with regard to HECS did not get up.

  The majority in the Senate that saw those amendments put in place on one occasion included Senator Harradine and the Greens joining with the Liberal-National Party senators. We also got a majority when the Democrats agreed with us. Every non-government senator agreed with one or two of the opposition's amendments.

  What we have seen is a mature debate. I salute Senator Schacht and Senator Sherry, who represented the government during these debates. This is a mature process. This is what this chamber ought to be doing. After consultations with the public and very careful deliberation, we should be able to have a debate in the Senate and finalise the issues. This legislation literally affects $10 billion worth of spending each year on education at every level.

  Finally, I commend the Senate committee process. We have seven standing committees of the parliament. One of them covers employment, education and training. Its members include Senator Tierney, Senator Calvert, Senator Bell, Senator Crane and government senators. It is chaired by a government senator, Senator Zakharov.

  We listen carefully to the reports of that committee. The committee has the time to examine and hear submissions from all over the country. Senator Harradine was right a few minutes ago when he commended that committee and said how it helped the Senate. This is the Senate working at its best. I really think that we should learn from this example and use the committee process even more in other areas.

Senator Patterson —Mr Dawkins casts aspersions upon them.

Senator TEAGUE —I know that the Treasurer, Mr Dawkins, has made very derogatory statements about this process because at the time he was education minister he was a loser at least 6 1/2 times out of nine. The Prime Minister (Mr Keating) has called the Senate unrepresentative swill. The Senate is not unrepresentative because we are all elected and it is not swill. I record this in the debate that has been going on for the last six hours. I believe that the Senate should continue with such responsibilities because it produces good outcomes.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.

  Education Services for Overseas Students (Registration of Providers and Financial Regulations) Amendment Bill 1993 reported with amendments and the Overseas Students Tuition Assurance Levy Bill 1993 reported with amendment; report adopted.