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Friday, 17 December 1993
Page: 5007

Senator SPINDLER (4.50 p.m.) —First of all, I would like to draw Senator Vanstone's attention to the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs of 9 December in which 35 Democrat amendments were published. If that does not show the thrust of our amendments, I do not know what does.

  I am not aware that Senator Vanstone, Senator Alston or anybody else has approached us to consult on those amendments. No-one has asked any questions about whether any of these amendments fall in line with what the opposition wants or not, but they have been on the table. Senator Vanstone could have read them if she had wished, if she had taken an interest.

  The only answer we got is that the opposition is going to vote against everything. So where is the opposition's consultation? Where is its attempt to approach this in a constructive way? I do not believe those in the opposition really have an answer to that because they have positively ignored it.

Senator Vanstone —Where is it?

Senator SPINDLER —  The report is published. The report is available to everyone. It was available to Senator Vanstone; she was a member of the committee so she has seen it. In that committee report the Democrats were not able to say to the government, `We will accede to your wish that the bill should be passed as it stands'. We believe that there need to be amendments to make certain that this bill becomes the basis of a just relationship between Aboriginal people and the rest of the community. We will pursue that end even if the opposition chooses to ignore it.

  I believe that we need to make sure that this is done speedily and that we do not wait a little bit longer, as a member of the coalition said under his breath just a few minutes ago. I think Aboriginal people have waited long enough for justice. We should get on with it.