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Thursday, 24 March 1994
Page: 2150

Senator HARRADINE (10.27 a.m.) —Apropos a couple of the last comments, I do not want it to be thought that people who are small in number, including individual senators, are not attending estimates committees. We do attempt to attend as many as required to obtain information from them. On the health issue, I give as an example the drug RU486. I had asked question after question about that at the estimates committee and I had received a response from the department. I know that it was departmental policy that that abortifacient drug would not be imported into Australia because it was a prohibited import, unless the secretary had consulted with the Minister for Health. The secretary has not consulted with the minister on this particular occasion. But does that mean that I had to attend every estimates committee since 1989-90 when that undertaking was given? That should not be so.

  I must say that it is not only on that issue but also on a number of other issues that I am reluctantly coming to the opinion that the word of this government cannot be trusted. I am not suggesting that the undertakings were not given in good faith on this and on a number of other things but I am coming to the view that, in the implementation of those undertakings, others with axes to grind are going to undermine those undertakings. I strongly oppose this motion that has been moved by the Manager of Government Business in the Senate (Senator Faulkner), although I accept that he has made certain statements in good faith. They become undermined by the government. I am not supporting this motion. (Quorum formed)