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Monday, 20 December 1993
Page: 5314

Senator BOSWELL (Leader of the National Party of Australia) (8.41 p.m.) —I would hardly call amendment 14 a belt and braces type amendment. It is an essential amendment that failed.

Senator Gareth Evans —Why didn't you vote for it then, Ron, if that is the view you had about it?

Senator BOSWELL —Quite frankly, I do not know how the bill will work. I am sure that the bill just cannot work. The Democrats were supposed to support that amendment, and that was the deal the government did with—

Senator Gareth Evans —You can't have it both ways. You can't sit there and whinge about it and then vote against it.

Senator BOSWELL —The minister is the one who told the industry and the pastoralists that the government had the numbers to guarantee it, and then the minister let them down very badly.

Senator Gareth Evans —I want that corrected for the record. We did not say anything of the kind; we said that we hoped we would have the numbers but we could not guarantee it. I have already described my position on this issue earlier today, and I will not repeat it.

Senator BOSWELL —I understood that there was a guarantee to the NFF that the government could deliver on amendment 14 and—I suppose `ratted' on it would be too strong a word.

Senator Gareth Evans —It is not only too strong a word; it is an outrageous word in the circumstances.

Senator BOSWELL —But, nevertheless, it is true.

Senator Gareth Evans —Mr Temporary Chairman, I am sorry. Senator Boswell is being a little bit provocative. We have been at this for a large number of hours. To suggest that I or the government had ratted on something in this respect is—

  The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Teague)—It would be appropriate, Senator Boswell, for you to withdraw the word `ratted'.

Senator BOSWELL —I cannot think of a more appropriate word, but certainly, in not delivering this amendment as the government had undertaken—

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —Senator Boswell, do you withdraw the word?

Senator BOSWELL —If Senator Evans is offended by it, I certainly withdraw it. Now that clause 15 has gone, it will be very hard for a large mining company—I suppose, even a small one—which is already mining and extracting minerals when the right to renew comes up; there will now be absolutely no certainty for that mine to continue. In other words, one could spend $20 million, $40 million, $100 million and get through half the active use of the mine to have the mining lease run out. Then one would be forced into negotiation—

Senator Gareth Evans —Why don't you ask the Liberals about this, if you feel so strongly?

Senator BOSWELL —It is the government's clause; the minister withdrew it.

Senator Panizza —It was the government's amendment.

Senator BOSWELL —It was the government's amendment, and the government deceived itself. How is the bill going to work without this amendment—that is what I am asking? If a mine gets halfway through its useful life and then the company goes into negotiation, which is almost a right of veto—