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Monday, 27 October 1997
Page: 8146

Senator MURRAY(9.31 p.m.) —Maybe I am missing something here. We are dealing with opposition amendments 7 and 10. Subclause 29(2) said—I will add a couple of words if I may—that a request relating to a publicly announced policy is to be in writing and to outline fully the policy to be costed, giving relevant details, and state the purpose or intention of the policy. To some extent, that is not a huge problem because it would have been publicly announced. However, the Senate, in its wisdom, has agreed that it should not be publicly announced.

Imagine the opposition last time round saying, `Dear Mr Keating, we've got this lovely idea about Telstra. We want to sell one-third of it and give one-eighth of the third we sell to create a new national heritage fund. Please would you ask the Treasury to cost the policy for us. Here's the full details of it. This is the purpose or intention of it. PS, don't use this before the election to plan your counter campaign.' It is so ludicrous as to be extraordinary.

I can see your difficulty, Parliamentary Secretary, in that you devised this bill with the intention of dealing with publicly announced policies. But the Senate does not want it to be publicly announced. I say to you that, as a result, it would be very damaging to any opposition leader and would negate the whole purpose of election campaigning and would encourage them not to give you their policies to be costed if we proceeded on this basis. Unless you have astonishingly good reasons to counter my views on this, we too will support the opposition amendments.