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Wednesday, 11 September 1996
Page: 3243

Senator KERNOT (Leader of the Australian Democrats)(11.54 a.m.) —That is all the more reason why Senator Bob Collins should vote for this amendment.

Senator Bob Collins —We forced him to change it.

Senator KERNOT —Yes, but it is not a matter of who is more rational—the Senate or the minister—in relation to ATSIC, although I take your point. One does wonder from time to time with the debates we have had in here over the past three or four years. The way we held the minister to account last time was via a censure motion. I think this is a better mechanism for providing for permanent debate. You cannot always rely on the suspension of standing orders to bring on a censure debate in order to make the points that we are able to make in debate. We saw what happened as a result of the issuing of that general direction. It came out of the blue. That is why I think that Senator Margetts's amendment is a safeguard to say, `Don't let it happen that way again. Yes, they will go ahead and issue general directions, perhaps, but we will have an automatic right to debate them in the Senate.' That, I think, is the strength of this amendment.