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Tuesday, 24 November 2015
Page: 8839

Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate and Minister for Rural Health) (19:14): Thank you, Senator, and I do note the comments that you made at the outset in relation to the minister, and I concur absolutely. I think that as a minister he deals with great integrity when it comes to dealing with people—not only in legislation but in the course of his portfolio responsibilities. I know that the great majority of people hold him in very high regard. So thank you for those comments, Senator.

Firstly, I want to indicate that there will be a fair framework. I intentionally picked up the phrase that you used, Senator Xenophon, because that is precisely what we are doing with this bill. We believe that the fair framework is absolutely in the bill. I hope it will go some way to alleviate your concerns. As I indicated earlier—and I completely understand that you may well have been distracted—we will make it very clear, under policy, that we will not pursue a civil penalty for people that have been coerced into making payments or have been subject to human trafficking or slavery. I do not know how I can be any more clear about that. I understand from your reading and your perspective of those words that it has created some concern for you. I hope my very genuine response to you indicates that the government will not be pursuing civil penalties in those instances.