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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 8657

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance and Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate) (17:18): I will try it again. I could not be clearer if I tried. This letter is cosigned by the Treasurer, the Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources and the Leader of the Australian Greens, Senator Di Natale—who, by the way, has brought a welcome and refreshing change to the approach by the Greens. Under his leadership, the Greens are now very much more constructively and much more positively engaged in finding common ground with the government on important areas of public policy and important areas in the national interest. What we have done on this occasion fits within that category. In recent months, the government and the Australian Greens have been able to find common ground in relation to a number of important public policy matters.

In relation to the specific issue in front of us, the government fully appreciates that in the context of an internal policy development process within government through the appropriate processes of government, and in the context of the appropriate democratic process in the Australian parliament, including the process through the great institution that is the Australian Senate, not all the consultations that you might otherwise like to pursue can be conducted in the time available. That is why we were very keen to ensure that there would be a proper process involving full public consultation with all relevant stakeholders, something that is explicitly enshrined in this letter. In order to assist Senator Wong, I will just quote from this very clearly written letter to Senator Di Natale again: 'The government will shortly commence a process for developing an implementation approach involving full public consultation. We'—the government and, given that he has cosigned it, Senator Di Natale as well—'consider this process important and necessary to ensure that technical issues can be addressed.'

So we are really in a violent multipartisan consensus here. We—the Australian government and, I assume, the Greens—share Senator Wong's concern for appropriate levels of consultation in relation to this particular matter, which is why it has been enshrined in this letter and which is why it will take place. All of the specific issues that are in Senator Wong's mind will be dealt with in due course.