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Thursday, 9 June 1994
Page: 1632


Senator COULTER (3.38 p.m.) —On the same matter, Mr Deputy President—


The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Senator Coulter, I would remind you that you have only one minute.


Senator Robert Ray —He can go on longer if he is the last one.


Senator COULTER —Then I seek leave to take an extra couple of minutes in which to complete my remarks.

  Leave granted.


Senator COULTER —I thank the Senate. I wish to pick up a point made by Senator Schacht in his closing remarks. Yes, there are deep philosophical questions involved in this matter which need to be debated by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science, Technology, Transport, Communications and Infrastructure. The minister went on to say that the committee, and by implication the parliament, cannot have it both ways. He is ignoring the fact that the government wants it both ways.

  It is the government itself which has placed restrictions on CSIRO by cutting its funding. It is the government itself which has placed certain impediments in the way of CSIRO by the processes of restructuring. It is the government itself which has placed certain impediments in the way by requiring that 30 per cent of the funds come from private sources. It is the government itself which has also placed emphasis on research for small and medium size businesses. Therefore, the government itself is having a heavy hand in the direction of CSIRO. That is the first point I want to make. Inevitably we have a situation where government must have an input and must be responsible for it. Hopefully the committee will investigate the responsibility of government.

  The point I want to stress is that it is reported that the minister has said that members of the government are freely able to approach people in CSIRO while members of other parties are not. I want to know whether he has issued such an instruction. Has he said that is the position? If that is the case, it is totally unacceptable.

  Question resolved in the affirmative.