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Tuesday, 30 August 1994
Page: 557

Senator PARER —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. I refer to the minister's continuing twists and turns over the sale of the federal airports, the proceeds of which are a vital ingredient in funding the government's white paper. I ask: what is the government's current policy in relation to the sale of the federal airports?

Senator COLLINS —The government's current policy on the sale of the airports is that announced by the Minister for Transport, and it is absolutely clear. The government has proposed the sale. The government has acknowledged that the matter has to be discussed at the conference later this year.

  One of the substantial differences between our two parties—Senator Parer has always asserted that their system is better—is that we actually do give the rank and file members of our party a real involvement in the policies of the government. Those opposite have actually asserted for years that their system of ignoring their rank and file works better, but from what I have seen I will stick with the system we have got.

Senator PARER —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I think it is worth reminding the minister that members of parliament are in fact elected by the people of Australia, not by a bunch of faceless men and women. Given the government's numerous spokespersons on this issue, all with differing versions of the government's policy, will the minister kindly tell the Senate, first, whether the airports will be sold or leased; secondly, whether the sale of regional airports will be limited to state and local authorities; and, thirdly, whether the ACTU and its affiliates, which have a worldwide reputation for disrupting airline travel at the most inconvenient times, will be given preferential consideration, either directly or through their union controlled funds, to buy into airports?

Senator COLLINS —Having watched the national president of the Liberal Party remove the last leader but one on national television, what Senator Parer has just asserted is a joke.