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Saturday, 18 December 1993
Page: 5085


Senator HILL (Leader of the Opposition) —by leave—I wish to speak further to this.


Senator Gareth Evans —What have you got to say?


Senator HILL —We all know what will happen. The government will get the numbers for the gag. After the Mabo legislation is passed, the government, the Democrats and the Greens will agree it is time to go home. What is the Leader of the Government in the Senate shaking his head for? He does this at the end of every session. The government will get the numbers for the gag. The gag will be put on and a vitally important issue to the veterans of Australia will not be properly dealt with by this chamber. It is just another application of the mismanagement of the process. What a nerve the Leader of the Government has to stand up and say that that will be dealt with sensibly after the Mabo debate. He does not seem to understand that Christmas is just about here. His crowd does not want to come back next week. When will it be debated? The government is not worried about the workers or the veterans.


Senator Collins —Are you?


Senator HILL —Yes. All the government is worried about is its fragile consensus for the Mabo legislation. It is looking more fragile every day. That is the big worry. I think the veterans legislation ought to be dealt with first. I cannot see any reason why it should not be. The Mabo debate can go for a long time. There are over 200 amendments. It is very complex and very difficult.


Senator Gareth Evans —There are 35 remaining debates.


Senator HILL —Senator Evans says that there are only 35 major subject matters for debate. That is not 35 clauses; that is 35 substantial areas of debate. We have a normal week's work for the Senate to go. I know and Senator Evans knows that the only way the veterans legislation will be properly dealt with is if it is dealt with now. That is why we oppose this motion that the debate be put off. We believe it ought to be dealt with now.

  Question put:

  That the motion (Senator Gareth Evans's) be agreed to.