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Saturday, 18 December 1993
Page: 5199

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs) (10.35 p.m.) —I think that is a little bit unfair from Senator Crane. Earlier on we were debating clause 47 and, no doubt, the honourable senator retains a very clear recollection of what the clause says. What it says, among other things, is that compensation is only payable under this act once for acts that are essentially the same. When an act is not essentially the same but consists of two quite distinct component parts, namely, a fact of acquisition and then the taking of a step pursuant to that acquisition, it is only the taking of the step that has consequences for the extinguishment. There are, in effect, two successive acts that are linked but are by no means the same.

  I am just drawing out the logical consequences of this particular legislation. There is a consistency of principle that lies behind this, and I think that should be perfectly evident. In the kind of compulsory acquisition for conditional purchase scheme of the kind that honourable senators are referring to, it is perfectly appropriate to contemplate a situation where the acquisition occurs and then the conditional purchase sales of the land underneath it is set in train in the way that is being talked about. You survey the land; you mark it up; you subdivide it and you start selling it, and that would constitute a step taken for the purpose of implementing the stated purpose of the acquisition. Under those circumstances, the whole thing would work in the way that honourable senators opposite seem to think would be inhibited.

  Just because honourable senators are putting questions to us that I have to take advice on and contemplate with my adviser to make sure that I am saying the right thing does not mean that we are making it up as we go along. It is perfectly true that I am turning my mind to a number of these issues for the first time. Honourable senators would be surprised how many of them I am addressing for the first time as I deal with them in the course of this debate—in fact, they would not be surprised at all. It is probably pretty self-evident. The point is that there are answers to all these questions that are being put to us.

  This is not a slaphappy approach to legislation. It is a complex legislative task, but honourable senators ought not be too confused by the bits of paper. I could lend honourable senators some coloured folders. That might help for a start. They could keep the different amendments in those and have a master sheet for each of the three parties and one for supplementary things. The only amendments that we are taking any notice of are the ones with a notation on the top right-hand corner. They are the ones that are all referred to in the running sheet, with only a couple of exceptions. Really, there is no justification for Senator Crane's confusion. If he is confused, he should not blame others for that particular congenital state.