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Saturday, 18 December 1993
Page: 5172


Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs) (8.05 p.m.) —The difficulty is that the government feels that Senator Chamarette's amendment would operate to prejudice the capacity of Aboriginal people and native titleholders in certain circumstances. I am advised to that effect. I am not entirely sure why that is so. I am in the process of sorting that out. I had not expected Senator Chamarette to move that amendment.


Senator Hill —That is a persuasive argument—you are advised about it, but you don't understand it.


Senator GARETH EVANS —There are occasions in the course of this legislation when one can be taken by surprise. I had not expected this amendment to come. It is a minor drafting point but, in the way the bill is framed at the moment, it says that `compensation is only payable once for acts that are essentially the same'. That is the language of the bill. The language proposed by Senator Chamarette is that `compensation is only payable under this act for damage or loss caused by an act, if the damage or loss has not otherwise been compensated'.

  We think that operates in a way that makes it possible for compensation to be restricted and not payable in circumstances in which it might otherwise be payable if our clause were to be accepted. What our clause focuses on is acts that are essentially the same. People can only be compensated once for acts that are essentially the same, but with acts that are not essentially the same, they can be compensated more than once. It is a technical drafting point.

  This amendment was an attempt on the part of the Greens to improve the legislation. We do not think it does that. We are concerned that at the margin it might conceivably have a restrictive effect. I cannot put it any more clearly than that until I focus a little more carefully on it than it is possible to do while I am standing on my feet and talking. However, that is the nature of the concern that we have.