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Tuesday, 3 May 1994
Page: 30

Senator ALSTON (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) —I give notice that, on the next day of sitting, I shall move:

  That the resolution of the Senate of 9 December 1993, as modified on 24 February 1994, establishing the Select Committee on Certain Aspects of Foreign Ownership Decisions in relation to the Print Media be further modified to provide that its term of appointment be extended till 9 June 1994—

  Senator Robert Ray—Bring in your verdict.

Senator ALSTON —This is appalling. I have never before been interrupted during the giving of a notice of motion.

  Senator Robert Ray—Why do you want an extension?

Senator ALSTON —We believe in justice being seen to be done.

  The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Teague)—Order! I ask that there no longer be interjections or distractions. Senator Alston may complete his notice of motion.

Senator ALSTON —Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. It continues:

to allow the committee to complete its evidence gathering and prepare its report.

I seek leave of the Senate to make a brief explanation of the reasons for seeking the extension.

  Leave granted.

Senator ALSTON —I do not wish to delay the Senate, particularly the baying hounds who have graced the chamber with their presence this afternoon. I seek leave to have incorporated in Hansard two documents which were incorporated in the record of the Senate committee. But Senator Loosely and Senator Murphy, not being able to be present on that occasion, did not have the opportunity to peruse them. In those circumstances, they might find the information particularly beneficial.

  Senator Robert Ray—It is normal to show them to the minister.

Senator ALSTON —These documents have already been incorporated in the committee's record. I am simply bringing them into this chamber.

  Senator Loosley—Your casting vote.

Senator ALSTON —No; we did not even need a casting vote thanks to Senator Loosley's preference for overseas travel during the last several occasions on which the Senate has met.

  Leave granted.

  The documents read as follows

  [DOCUMENTS OMITTED FROM DATABASE - SEE HARD COPY PAGES 31-32]   Senator ALSTON—There have been a number of very good and valid reasons for this committee's inability to complete its deliberations, not least of which has been the totally uncooperative attitude of several of its members, who perhaps do not need to be named at this point.

  Senator Robert Ray—You should do less leaking to the media and put more effort into it. You are the running commentator.

Senator ALSTON —If Senator Robert Ray is not careful, I will tell him what Senator Carr had to say.

  The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Teague)—Order! I asked for there to be no interjections and for Senator Alston not to respond to interjections. He should complete his brief statement.

Senator ALSTON —I thought this would be very helpful. If Senator Robert Ray is not careful, I will tell him what Senator Carr had to say about his assessment of Mr Hinton's inability to attend because of broken ribs; and, in particular, what Senator Sherry had to say about Senator Carr's very charitable assessment that perhaps the same fate might have befallen him if he had attended the committee. He simply said, `With your reputation as a hit man, I wouldn't be making those sorts of comments even in jest.'

  Mr Hinton's illness was one very good reason why it was necessary to delay the reporting date, because that then affected the attendance of a number of other Public Service witnesses. Of course, there has been the intransigence of the Treasurer (Mr Willis) and the contemptuous refusal of the Prime Minister (Mr Keating) to cooperate. We ultimately received a very belated acknowledgment that a crucial document is in fact valid. I was very grateful for the Treasurer making that last minute concession. So, in those circumstances, in order to ensure that the committee takes fully into account all of the evidence that is necessary, and particularly in order to enable us further time to obtain the answers to the very important questions listed on the two pages I have had incorporated today, I am hopeful that the motion will pass without comment tomorrow.