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

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 31 August 1994
Page: 681

Senator GIBSON —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. Why did the Minister for Transport act immediately on the ANL due diligence report when a contrary report, showing ANL in a much better light, was submitted to the Auditor-General the day before the minister claims he received the due diligence report?

Senator COLLINS —I say to Senator Gibson with respect that that is an absolute repeat of the question he has already asked. I have already explained three times the difference between the Drewry valuation, which is the one he is talking about, and the due diligence process. The company's own valuations, which were carried out by an independent shipping valuer, were on the basis and in respect of those profitable elements of the company's operations which, regrettably, were the minority, on the basis of income stream. But the majority of the operations of the company were valued on a discounted value on the basis of an asset sale. That is the difference between the two valuations. I have already answered the question twice now.

  The independent valuation that Senator Gibson has just referred to was the valuation of the company, as I have said before, as a going concern, as opposed to a valuation by the due diligence process of the company as a `sale' company for those elements of its operations which were non-profitable, which were the majority of them. Again, as I have already told the Senate, the scoping study that was done—and the minister has already made this public—in 1992 indicated a wide variation of values from positive to negative, and the due diligence result actually falls within the ambit of that original scoping study.

Senator GIBSON —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Did the Minister for Transport receive, or even bother to seek a copy of, this report which was given to the Auditor-General and which valued ANL at between $33 million positive and zero? Did the minister consider this or any other reports or even seek advice about the veracity of the due diligence report prior to declaring publicly that `you could not give ANL away'? As the government had decided not to sell or even liquidate ANL, why did it publicly release the due diligence report, fatally damaging the future trading capacity of ANL?

Senator COLLINS —I refer Senator Gibson, as I did yesterday, to the Senate Notice Paper. It was debated here this morning. He should have a word with his colleague Senator Alston.

Senator Alston —Mr President, I rise on a point of order. I do not expect you to be able to pick up the obvious flaw in the logic, but Senator Collins is not being asked why, after Mr Brereton fatally sabotaged ANL, we should ask for documents. He is being asked why Mr Brereton saw the need to release that document publicly at all. That is the only question Senator Collins has been asked. It has nothing to do with what I or anyone else might do after the event—after the balloon has gone up. The question is: why did Mr Brereton do what he did at the time? If Senator Collins cannot answer that—well, I think we all know the answer.

The PRESIDENT —Senator Alston, you have not made a point of order; you have made a statement.

Senator COLLINS —Talk about a bush lawyer! Senator Alston wants us to table everything. I suggest that he works out his case. We already know that there is a difference between Senator Gibson's approach to this and Senator Alston's approach. We know that there is a gulf between two frontbenchers: Mr Moore who wants us to wind it up and sell it tomorrow and Mr Sharp who not only wants us to keep it and recapitalise it but also to offer it further tax breaks and provide Australian maritime workers, seamen, with tax free incomes. I suggest that before Senator Alston asks—

Senator Alston —Mr President, I rise on a point of order. It is a very simple proposition—relevance. The question is: why did Mr Brereton feel the need to release that document? Why cannot you ask Senator Collins to answer that question rather than pretend that he said something yesterday? He should answer it today.

Senator Robert Ray —Mr President, could you explain to me under what standing order Senator Alston has been empowered by the Senate to reinterpret every question that is asked and try to direct you on that.

The PRESIDENT —I have made the point many times before: I can judge on the general relevance of answers. If they are right off the point I can clearly rule them out of order. I have no capacity to judge the precise detail of a minister's answer or, in fact, whether a minister wishes to answer.

Senator COLLINS —I conclude by saying this: before the coalition asks one more question on ANL, I strongly advise it to get its own act together and have a cohesive, single position on the matter, and then we will debate it.