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Monday, 20 December 1993
Page: 5319

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs) (9.10 p.m.) —Senator Vanstone has raised an interesting point. I am not sure that there is any great practical significance to be attached to this because it is only if a fairly substantial chain of events occurs and is then aborted that this situation would ever arise. In practice, I do not think that is likely to occur quite as often as Senator Vanstone suggests. I recall a provision where, when dealing with a mine, for example, if the mine area and the mine proposal remain the same but the personnel of the mine applicants change—because there is a change in joint venture arrangements or a change in the nature of the partnership involved—it is possible for the process to proceed without starting again.

  This is a highly technical issue which may or may not have practical implications. This is the kind of issue that I think could readily be reviewed in the first period of operation of the legislation and, if there is some practical problem evident, it is the kind of thing that could be very easily remedied. Rather than spending any further time on it, Senator Vanstone might accept my undertaking to draw this to the attention of the drafters and the Attorney-General's Department with a view to looking carefully at some possible improvement in the legislation. Senator Vanstone may have a point, but it is hard to perceive on the run whether any remedies are necessary. Since she has not moved any amendments on this or anything else, it is not easy to test it.