Senate debates

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Trade Practices Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2005

Consideration of House of Representatives Message

12:45 pm

Photo of Eric AbetzEric Abetz (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation) Share this | Hansard source

What we have just heard was, unfortunately, what we heard from the vast majority of contributors in this debate—that is, a spray of invective and personal vilification against a particular senator whom certain senators in this chamber happen to disagree with on a policy position. All that I would say to the people of Australia is they should just imagine how the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens, if they were to get the majority in this place in government, would treat anybody that would oppose them. It has been, I must say from the opposite side, a rather shameful contribution. The substance of the matters was not really dealt with.

Senator Conroy suggested in his contribution just then that there would be only 20 days to deal with a merger between various media organisations. It is, as I understand it, an extension of a further 20 days. There is only one reason for the honourable senator across the chamber to so misrepresent the Family First amendment—that is, he wants the invective to flow and he wants people to misunderstand what has actually been proposed.

We have had here a debate on issues that were canvassed in this place some 12 months ago, and these issues are relatively fresh. I know the Democrats have commented about process in relation to this, but, from listening to their contributions, I am not sure that they would have said anything else or more if we had given them an extra month to consider the message from the House of Representatives. Whilst you might be able to throw mud at Family First and ask: ‘Why have they changed their mind? Has a nasty deal been done?’ if you want that to stick, you then have to ask why the National Farmers Federation is in support; why the Fair Trading Committee is in support; why the National Association of Retail Grocers is in support and why COSBOA is in support. What you then have is a conspiracy theory that is quite out of control, quite unsustainable and in fact quite stupid.

The suggestion that all those organisations are somehow part of a conspiracy is simply unsustainable. The embarrassing thing for those opposite in particular is that all these small business organisations, having considered the legislation in the past 12 months, are saying: ‘It’s time to get on with business. It’s time to move things ahead.’ They are now agreed on the positions that have been put by the government. I now commend the message from the House of Representatives. I indicate the government’s disagreement with the propositions put by Senator Joyce, and the government’s agreement with the propositions put by Senator Fielding. I move:

That the motion be now put.

Question agreed to.

Question put:

That the amendment (Senator Joyce’s) be agreed to.


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