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Friday, 17 December 1993
Page: 5000

Senator KERNOT (Leader of the Australian Democrats) (4.20 p.m.) —I just want to put a couple of comments on the record with reference to Senator Hill's very unfair remarks. The fact of the matter is that the opposition announced earlier this week that it was going to vote against all amendments and against the bill. One might wonder what members of the opposition wanted to consider about the amendments which have been circulated, when they have already said, `We're not interested'. Mr Peter Reith has said on the public record, `This bill is rotten to the core and we will vote against every amendment'.

  The second point I want to make is that the opposition finds it very difficult to understand a consensual process. What, in fact, has been happening behind the scenes is that Democrats, Greens, Aboriginal groups, lawyers—

Senator Tambling —Some Aboriginal groups; not all of them.

Senator KERNOT —Actually, a great many Aboriginal people. Democrats, Greens, Aboriginal groups, lawyers, draftsmen, QCs and many others with an interest in this issue have been debating, discussing and negotiating for more than 24 hours.

  The opposition's problem with the amendments is its problem. We know that we have spent a great deal of time going into the detail. We know that we have put our amendments to Senator Alston, who is the opposition's spokesperson. Senator Alston received our amendments last night. The principles of those amendments are well known. There is no problem in moving forward from here, because those of us who care about this bill and these amendments have had time to look at the detail.