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Friday, 17 December 1993
Page: 5019

Senator IAN MACDONALD (5.57 p.m.) —I despair about the sheer pointlessness of it all. We are going to sit here for the next three days late at night going through this legislation, and all to no avail, I say to Senator Chamarette and Senator Margetts, because the word is out that the government is already redrafting the Native Title Bill. Not even Senator Gareth Evans is that silly—he is a better lawyer than to think that this bill will ever get anywhere. He knows, as well as his advisers, that this bill is ruined. It is finished; it is gone; it is never going to work.

  As we go through the next three days of agony late at night trying to stitch it up, Senator Gareth Evans knows as a lawyer that we cannot do these things on the run, make them fit in together, and have any semblance of sense when they come to be interpreted. One cannot do this sort of complicated drafting on the run. Senator Evans knows that. The whole exercise will be absolutely pointless. We will be back here in February or March doing it again. The word is out that people have already started to rewrite proper legislation that takes everything into account, so we are going to go through all of this for absolutely nothing. I think Senator Ellison was lucky enough to get the last amendments; I suspect that other people in the chamber have not seen them. That is the way this government is running the chamber, and it is all for nothing.

  I ask Senator Margetts and Senator Chamarette to mark my words. They and the group down in the corner will not be consulted next time because the government will do it in its own way and ignore them, and deal with other groups.

  In conclusion, I want to take issue with my friend and colleague Senator Panizza. He was inviting people to argue with him that the Democrats get their running orders from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. I disagree with Senator Panizza. It is fairly clear to me that the Democrats always get their running instructions from caucus. They are a part of the caucus. Why they do not just save their shoe leather and sit in there with caucus and vote on the decisions, I do not know. I am sure we could start the new ultra left faction for the Labor Party so that they can be in the caucus together. It would save a hell of a lot of time.

  I do not accuse the Greens of the same. I suspect that, however misguided they are, they are genuine in their attempts to do something correct. But the Democrats have simply just turned into a faction of the Labor Party. They do whatever they are told to by Senator Gareth Evans and all the other people who gather around them every time a division is called to make sure that they remain on side. In that regard, I disagree with Senator Panizza.

Sitting suspended from 6.00 to 7.00 p.m.