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Monday, 10 November 2008
Page: 4

Senator ABETZ (Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) (12:57 PM) —The minister took, I think, a good 10 minutes or so to provide a response to a question that I in fact did not ask. The question I asked was: when the Deputy Prime Minister first came out saying that she opposed all the Senate’s amendments, clearly before 5 November, what consultation had taken place with her state and territory counterparts? I asked that question at Senate estimates but was unable to receive an answer. I have a hunch that we know what the answer is: zero, nil, none, no consultation whatsoever before her high-handed statement. So I ask again and if we do not get an answer I will just assume that the answer is that there was no consultation before she made her high-handed statement.

I have a second question: Minister, did the communique to which you referred make any reference to the Western Australian minister saying that he in fact did support some of the amendments, including giving increased representation to the social partners, namely ACCI and the ACTU? Whilst you are at it, can you tell us how the provision of an audit committee by virtue of Senate amendment is inconsistent with the intergovernmental agreement?