Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Tuesday, 25 June 1996
Page: 2141

Senator BOB COLLINS(5.29 p.m.) —I cannot tell you how badly I feel about having to say that we will be supporting the government on this occasion. We will not be supporting these amendments. I am not going to allow the considerable angst that I feel at the moment in respect of the government's actions in Aboriginal affairs issues to carry over into primary industry.

Senator Panizza —What are you on about?

Senator BOB COLLINS —Calm down, Senator Panizza. I have put the position that the opposition has on this question well enough or at least long enough in the previous debate not to want to go over it again here. In respect of the Greens' amendments, they are the only ones, I think, that I have not actually specifically canvassed in debate. I will do that now.

I must say that I fully understand why the Greens have moved the amendments in respect of the 15 sitting days. I might also note in passing that there is a Scrutiny of Bills Committee recommendation that this in fact should be done. I note also that the Scrutiny of Bills Committee was unmoved by the response of the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy, Mr Anderson, to it when it pointed out that it was not happy with this particular provision.

The reason that I note this now and I have not noted it before in debate is that this particular matter is really the only one which is different from the legislation that was drafted by the previous government. I noted that small but significant change in the committee hearings. It is noted in the committee's majority report, I think at 1.6. It is that under the previous arrangements—and Senator Margetts would have been even more unhappy about these—the minister had the sole power to make such determinations, and they were in fact not subject to disallowance in the parliament. The reason for that—and I do not resile from it even now in opposition—was that we believed, because of the desire of everybody to see this experiment succeed, because of the commercial realities of the marketplace and so on, it was unnecessarily interfering with those commercial realities and that they on balance outweighed the need to bring the matter in here. That is still my view, I might add.

The reason that I make that explanation is to explain that, in my view, as dissatisfied as I am about the government's move to have them disallowed, I would be even unhappier about 15 days than I am with three. I noted in the committee that this change was no doubt brought about by the sterling efforts of people like Senator Brownhill himself and others in prevailing upon the minister that there needed to be a bit of check and balance on his activities. It was in the newspapers at the time, and it may have been very malicious reporting—there was a scurrilous rumour about at the time—that there were certain backbenchers, particularly in the National Party, that were not absolutely ecstatic at that time about the minister's performance.

Senator Brownhill —You are drawing a long bow.

Senator BOB COLLINS —I am actually doing it a lot more gently here than I was in the committee, Senator Brownhill, as you would recall. But, having made that point—

Senator Woodley —You are spot on, Senator Collins.

Senator BOB COLLINS —Thank you for your endorsement, Senator Woodley. Having made that point again—and I have no doubt that Senator Brownhill fully expected me to make it in here, as I did in the committee—I would indicate in explanation to Senator Margetts that that, and only that, is the reason for our opposition to her amendments; to in fact comply, I note again, with the Scrutiny of Bills Committee's recommendation that we should in fact stick to the traditional 15 days disallowance.