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Monday, 20 June 1994
Page: 1697


Senator ALSTON —My question is to the Leader of the Government. Does the government stand by the Prime Minister's solemn pre-election promise that `Labor is committed to the retention of Telecom in full public ownership. Telecom will not be sold under my government'? In other words, will the minister give an unequivocal commitment that all parts of Telecom will remain wholly government owned for as long as Mr Keating remains the Prime Minister?


Senator GARETH EVANS —I have no reason whatsoever to doubt the veracity of that commitment, and I repeat it now.


Senator ALSTON —I ask a supplementary question. Just so that the Left is not under any misapprehension—I know that it will save the minister a lot of time at the national conference—is the answer to the second part of the question yes? In other words, does the minister give an unequivocal commitment that all parts of Telecom will remain wholly government owned for as long as Mr Keating remains Prime Minister?


Senator GARETH EVANS —That is the government's position. It has been made perfectly clear by the Prime Minister and by the Minister for Communications and the Arts; it is made as clear as necessary by me. It is about time that Senator Alston learned to accept a straightforward answer when he hears one, even if he is incapable of ever giving one himself.