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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 8691


Senator WONG (South AustraliaLeader of the Opposition in the Senate) (20:40): First, in relation to the amendments moved, I understand Senator Xenophon's motivation and I think he has picked up in part, as he said in his contribution, the New Zealand national interest test—which I think he also referenced in the Senate inquiry report. So he is consistent on this.

We have a view that, in any area of regulation, you always have to judge whether or not being more prescriptive will yield more benefits or more problems. I think the issue here, which Senator Cormann alluded to, in that there may be unintended consequences from being too prescriptive in relation to the national interest test, is that it may have the perverse effect of making the foreign investment regime more open to legal challenge. I understand that is an arguable proposition, but on this issue we are not in a position to support Senator Xenophon's amendments.

In relation to Senator Whish-Wilson's comments, I have to say that, to suggest that somehow the broad consideration on water entitlements that you have got in the deal you have done with the government means that you can consider the national interest test in that context and therefore not vote for Senator Xenophon's amendments, is a very interesting argument.