Save Search

Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 3 November 2011
Page: 8167

Media


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (14:12): My question is to the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Conroy. I ask the minister if he believes that the government should be assisting multimillionaires who donate to the Greens political party to the extent of hundreds of millions of dollars by granting them tax deductibility status for bankrolling their pet left-wing, not-for-profit journalism enterprises.


Senator CONROY (VictoriaMinister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) (14:12): This is a follow-up question to the conspiracy theory that the good Senator 'Maca' was purporting to—

The PRESIDENT: Senator Conroy.

Senator CONROY: Sorry—Senator Macdonald. I am sure he does not mind the affectionate term. The possible proposal that may come forward and may be part of an inquiry that may be supported by the people conducting the inquiry that one day may be considered by the government is something that probably would fall into the hypothetical category on most days. But I am happy to say what I have said all along on a whole range of these issues. We put forward broad terms of reference and will look at a range of issues. We welcome the inquiry and we welcome the input from Senator Macdonald, Senator Brown and anybody else who wants to put in a submission. We will see what the inquiry puts forward. But the government reserves its right to consider that amongst all the other evidence and considerations at the time.

We are not prejudging any of these issues. We note the point that Senator Macdonald makes. But we will see what the inquiry brings forward and then we will give it due consideration at the time. That is not ruling anything in or anything out of the hypotheticals that you are asking me to rule in and out.




Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (14:14): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Is it a fact—and I am sure that the minister would know—that Senator Bob Brown states in his submission to the independent media inquiry that 'The Australian Greens support the proposal for tax deductible status for not-for-profit journalism enterprises'? Will the minister give an assurance and a commitment that the government will reject any such recommendation from the independent media inquiry?


Senator CONROY (VictoriaMinister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) (14:15): I will do my best with this question. Again, the senator is asking me to rule out a hypothetical that may or may not happen. As I said, we are waiting to see the inquiry completed, we are waiting to see the report of the inquiry and we are waiting to consider the report of the inquiry. This is something that has been discussed in the sector for some considerable time. It might be new to Senator Macdonald and exciting for him to suddenly discover that some academics support it and that Senator Brown and the Greens support it. Surely even Senator Bernardi may benefit from this particular tax deduction, with all of his web sites that we learnt about recently. So perhaps even Senator Bernardi may want to put in a submission supporting this particular proposal. He has a myriad of web sites. He can hardly keep track. How many is it, Senator Bernardi? I lost count. (Time expired)


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (14:16): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. The minister deliberately misinterpreted the point, so I will ask him this directly: is it appropriate for the Greens political party to advocate a measure to the independent media inquiry that would provide multimillion-dollar tax breaks for a $1.6 million donor to their party? Did Senator Brown disclose this massive conflict of interest in his submission? Will the minister give a commitment that the government will reject any such recommendation?


Senator CONROY (VictoriaMinister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Digital Productivity) (14:16): We have Clive Palmer out there opposing the mineral resource tax and donating massively to those opposite—he flies Senator Brandis around in his plane; he flies Senator Joyce around in his plane. You thought I had forgotten you, Senator Joyce.

Senator Brandis interjecting

Senator CONROY: I may have been unfair to Senator Brandis, but Senator Joyce certainly knows what the inside of Mr Palmer's plane looks like.

Senator Ian Macdonald: Mr President, I rise on a point of order on relevance. I did not ask the minister to give an account of Mr Palmer's travel arrangements. I asked him whether he thought it was appropriate for a leader of a political party in this chamber to be advocating preferential treatment for a significant donor to his party. That is what I asked the minister; I asked the minister whether that was appropriate.

The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order.

Senator CONROY: That is a shocking reflection on Senator Joyce, a shocking reflection. Senator Joyce should feel free to lobby on behalf of Clive Palmer's mining interests and oppose the mining tax as often as he wants. Senator Macdonald should not take shots at him like that. I know that up there the Queensland Nationals and the Liberals—

Senator Ian Macdonald: Mr President, I rise on a point of order on relevance. You cannot allow the minister to continue to disregard standing orders to have a rant of his own. I particularly asked for his view on the conflict of interest of Senator Brown and the Greens and I require his answer.

The PRESIDENT: There is no point of order.

Senator CONROY: The only further thing that I will add is that Senator Macdonald is once again asking the government to predetermine the outcome of an inquiry that is underway. As I have said, it is an independent inquiry. It has independent terms of reference. It is working through its processes. We look forward to receiving that report and to the debate that will ensue. (Time expired)