11 February 2004

About that text...

Both houses of federal parliament resumed yesterday. Senator Hill, Defence Minister and Leader of the Government in the Senate has evidently developed telepathic abilities. He answered a string of detailed questions about the benefits of an agreement he has not read.

Read this question, if you will, and consider the text I've boldfaced:

Question without notice

Senator HILL: I have to say, Senator Carr, for your benefit, that he has done an excellent job in negotiating this agreement for Australia. On the substantive part of the question as to when the full text will be available, as of yesterday I was unable to get a firm answer on that.

Senator Carr: Haven't you got a copy?

Senator HILL: No. There was a suggestion of a fortnight, but I suspect it might take a little longer than that. What is the timetable for implementation? The timetable is that the enabling legislation should be passed during this year. That will mean that the process within the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties will need to be a prompt one. The government will certainly be approaching it expeditiously and looking to that committee being provided with the information that it requires as quickly as possible. We would urge the committee to go about its job in order that we might meet that time frame. That is, no doubt, an ambitious time frame but, with benefits so great for Australia as flow from this particular agreement, the government is obviously anxious to be able to bring it into effect as quickly as possible.

Incidentally, the foreign affairs department advises anyone with a query to email them at us_fta@dfat.gov.au. '_' is, of course, an illegal character in an email address and the address therefore does not work.

Where is the text? Why can't it be published?

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