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Thursday, 27 November 2003
Page: 18195


Senator KEMP (Minister for the Arts and Sport) (12:30 PM) —I was not going to reply, but Senator Lundy decided to somewhat gratuitously attack the government, which was rather unfair, and I do not propose to sit here and cop that. I listened very carefully to what Senator Greig said. Senator Lundy, of course, is the representative of the trade unions in this chamber. That is the nature of the Labor Party; it is the political arm of the trade union movement. Every senator that comes into this chamber is typically a trade union boss. It is not surprising that Senator Lundy would want to include trade unions in these exemptions. It is not surprising because they are the paymaster. If you are Labor senator and you get a call from the ACTU, you jump. We understand that—it is the nature of the Labor Party. The amazing thing is that Senator Greig has decided to jump with them! That is the astonishing thing, Senator Greig: these people attack your party as much as they attack my party. There is no argument in logic that trade unions should have special exemption. They have a known membership base. Basically, it is an attempt by Senator Lundy to try to look after her mates. That is fair enough, but why would the Democrats want to be part of that? It defies logic.

I listened to you very carefully, Senator Greig. You are opposed to all exemptions, but you are going to widen the exemptions. That is the logic of it. You say, `If we're going to have some exemptions, then let's widen them still further.' People may look at that. I have to say that I have thought very hard and listened very carefully to see whether I could discern a guiding principle in what you say. I am not sure I could. There is an old saying in politics, Senator Greig: `If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.' Essentially, that is the problem with the position that you have adopted. If it was a principled position, you would not be doing what you are doing. Your `principled' position is that there are to be no exemptions, so you have come into this chamber and you have now widened the exemptions. That is the Democrat logic. I do not agree with it.

I do not propose to delay the chamber. There was a press statement that was put out last night by my colleague the Hon. Daryl Williams, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. With the permission of the chamber, I would seek leave to incorporate the press statement in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The document read as follows—

OPPOSITION AND DEMOCRATS WEAK ON SPAM

26 November 2003

21/03

Tonight, the opposition and Australian Democrats have sold out the Australian community by inserting a giant loophole in the Australian Government's anti-spam bill.

They have sided with unscrupulous scammers who could not have designed a better loophole for themselves.

Under amendments passed by the Senate tonight, Australians can expect to receive spam from any company that thinks the recipient might have an interest in their products.

This removes the Government's strict requirement that the recipient must consent to receiving commercial email.

The Howard government is committed to an effective spam regime that allows consumers to take advantage of the benefits of the Internet without continual bombardment with unsolicited, intrusive and often offensive electronic messages.

It is disappointing that the opposition and the Democrats have supported amendments that let those responsible for the flood of nuisance email clogging up Australian inboxes to get around this legislation.

The government will reject these amendments in the House of Representatives for the sake of Australian consumers and our international reputation for delivering effective and responsible online regulation.

And I call on the opposition not to delay Australia's fight against spam by continuing to argue for a weakening of the legislation.