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Wednesday, 24 August 1994
Page: 220

Senator PARER —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. I refer the minister to the government's decision to appoint the mates of the Prime Minister and the Minister for Industrial Relations, Mr Brereton—Messrs Wran and Turnbull—to the board of ANL. Is the minister aware that Mr Wran's and Mr Turnbull's last involvement in the transport industry was as the joint underwriter of the start-up airline, Australia Air, which had government approval to open up the Australia-China air route? Is the minister also aware that the float of the airline collapsed because of the failure of Turnbull and Partners to raise funds? What grounds does the government have for assuming that Messrs Turnbull and Wran will do better with ANL than they did with Australia Air?

Senator COLLINS —That is drawing a very long bow indeed. The government is totally confident about the capacity of the new board to do the job the government has given it. I do not think that on any fair assessment—and I have some familiarity with that particular company which was just mentioned—any failure could be attributed to the people mentioned in that regard by Senator Parer.

Senator PARER —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Given that the ANL remuneration package for Messrs Neville Wran and Malcolm Turnbull amounts to $3,000 per day for two days work a week for six months, can the minister explain why they are being paid more than twice the rate of a High Court judge—and, indeed, more than twice the rate of the Prime Minister—in order to attempt to save a company which has a $180 million debt and a negative sale value of up to $117 million? What were the criteria for the appointment of Turnbull and partners?

Senator COLLINS —To the best of my knowledge, those determinations were made by the Remuneration Tribunal. I will check on that information. Indeed, that is correct. The fact is that those rates were determined by the Remuneration Tribunal, not the government.