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Thursday, 9 June 1994
Page: 1631


Senator CRANE (3.34 p.m.) —How the web gradually untangles. Senator Cook said in his answer the other day, `I have not issued a directive,' yet Senator Schacht—the Hon. Senator Schacht—when he spoke a moment ago said, `I support the decision of Senator Cook.' That poses the question put at the start of the debate: has Senator Cook issued a directive or not? According to Senator Cook, the answer is no; according to what Senator Schacht said, yes.

  I want to get back to some more fundamental matters. It has also been revealed that the coalition member, who was not to be named at question time today, is Dr Kemp; he walked into the meeting and sat down. So Senator Schacht has given us a bit more information in terms of what has been going on.

  I want to go back to the answer given the other day connecting with the answer given today. Last week it was the coalition that walked into the CSIRO, and that has been identified through what has been said, but it was a parliamentarian who rang up the CSIRO. That poses the question: is that parliamentarian a member of the government, is it a Green, a member of the Democrats, a member of the National Party or a member of the Liberal Party? It goes to the heart of the matter as to where this direction has been put in place. I speak as somebody who has had contact with the CSIRO for some 20 years. I have had access to it and I have met with individuals, including scientists and others, in that organisation. We now have this direction in place, and no doubt as time goes on we will discover more and more things. Senator Schacht may say more on the matter and raise more issues.

  I also wish to mention the inquiry. The point raised by Senator Ferguson today is very relevant. In the process of this inquiry and restructuring that is taking place—and one is not opposed to restructuring carried out in a proper manner—what additional restrictions are being placed by the minister? What intervention is there in terms of the CSIRO? What direction is occurring as to which way it can move? It is all very well to stand up and talk about the philosophical position of the CSIRO, but there is no doubt, as Senator Cook made clear the other day, that political pressure is being put on the CSIRO and its future direction.

  Today Senator Schacht has given us some more information with regard to this matter. Nevertheless, this draconian restriction on an organisation, whose officers have in the past been freely available to talk to the opposition or to people not in government, is still in place. It is unacceptable and outrageous.