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Thursday, 31 October 1996
Page: 4925


Senator SHERRY (Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate)(4.47 p.m.) —I have a couple of points in response to that diatribe—and that is what it was. I referred to the finishing time of 7.20 earlier because that is when we will finish considering this bill today. There was no reference whatsoever to the time that we will vote on this particular schedule.

I suggest to you, Senator, that it is the first time in my six years here that I have ever heard a parliamentary secretary or a minister on a number of occasions refer senators to the library on important questions. I do not recall that my colleagues or I did this when we were in government. If that is the sort of tack you are going to suggest, all you are doing is exemplifying your own ignorance. I would also make the same comment in respect of your comments about afternoon tea, sandwiches and crayons—if that is the best that you can do.

I raise the undertakings given by the Prime Minister and the importance of (a). We are in support of (a) and, as you have pointed out, it is included in our amendment. What we want to know is why you will not include other concepts in these broad principles and how you see the outcomes of the other schedules in this bill—how you see the various changes that you are proposing to principle (a) are going to affect the Australian economy in respect of unemployment, et cetera.

I return to that second commitment of the Prime Minister, Mr Howard. He said that, under a Howard government, you cannot be worse off but you can be better off. Do you stand by that undertaking of the Prime Minister?