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Thursday, 12 August 2004
Page: 26376


Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) (4:58 PM) —We are debating the opposition amendments. It remains our view that, fundamentally, the opposition amendments are not necessary—that the protections we pledged to maintain have been achieved through the agreement and the implementing legislation before the chamber. However, we are realistic enough to know that we are not going to be able to implement the free trade agreement without the votes of the opposition. The benefits of being able to achieve our goal of implementing the agreement as a whole are overwhelming. Therefore we are prepared to agree to the opposition amendments. We do have some concerns about their consistency with the agreement. We made representations to the opposition asking them to, in some way, improve their amendments so that that issue would be less likely to be a problem. But, because of where we are in the electoral cycle and their focus on wanting to demonstrate that they have confidence in their position, they were not prepared to accept the representations that we made to them.