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Saturday, 18 December 1993
Page: 5089

Senator VANSTONE (9.37 a.m.) —Perhaps we could take this matter in an orderly fashion, as Senator Evans indicated last night he wants to. Could he indicate what written legal advice he has with respect to clause 11. He may not have sought advice as to whether the Commonwealth can use section 109 and, by statute, adopt the common law to lock out the states. There may be some other aspect on which he has sought advice—for example, how to do that, if that is what he wants to achieve.

  When Senator Hill said to him this morning, `You've got 39 things to get done', Senator Evans said, `It's so easy; they've all been grouped into these 39 sections. There are not 205 amendments; it is not complicated at all. We can deal with this, subject area by subject area'. We are now on the third or fourth subject area: laws of general application. This is where the minister has indicated that he wants to deal with this matter. When we try to follow the government's running sheet and its suggestion of where to deal with this, namely as the fourth item—clause 11 amendment 4, or clause 11 in general—he is not ready to do so. The minister has had one amendment, he announced this morning that it had been pulled off. He could have told people last night.

Senator Bishop —He has probably only just found out about it.

Senator VANSTONE —As Senator Bishop says, he has probably only just realised that it was not possible. Somebody has probably tipped him off to the questioning that he was going to be subjected to this morning. It simply is not adequate. We are trying to follow the government's sheet. Let us not have any bad faith about this. The government grouped these things in this order. Senator Evans said, `This is where laws of general application should now be dealt with'. We are now ready to do that, and he walks in and says, `I want to pull this amendment off'. He pretends that he is organised, then he rattles off a number of other amendments and finally says that it was not one of his after all, it was one of Senator Chamarette's amendments. We want to try to deal with this fully and properly, yes, but in an orderly fashion. Senator Evans is the one who set this schedule. Perhaps he could now indicate when he thinks he will be ready to deal with subject area D.

  I have a few other questions after that, but perhaps that is the first one that the minister ought to answer. When he does so, will he indicate what legal advice he does have with respect to this general area; or has he none? Is he sailing on his own brains?