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Monday, 19 September 1994
Page: 877


Senator PARER —My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. I preface my question by noting that Labor Left convener Senator Carr has stated that he was disappointed that the Labor Left could not get a clear fix on the position of Minister Brereton on the privatisation of Australia's 23 FAC airports. Noting that the Left has the power, as shown in the ANL debate, to bring the government to its knees, I ask: is Minister Brereton's latest proposal to lease the airports on a 99-year lease just another pea and thimble trick to confuse the Left into believing that the government will retain some control over those facilities? How will the government fund the $2 billion budget shortfall if the Left rolls the FAC airport privatisation plans at next weekend's conference? Finally, will the minister give an assurance that this time, unlike what happened with the ANL fiasco, the government will not buy off the Left wing opponents at the expense of the taxpayers of Australia?


Senator Kemp —Have you got a clear fix on the question, Bob?


Senator COLLINS —There are about 50 in there. I can assure Senator Parer that, in terms of conspiracy theories, there is no need at all for such an elaborate structure to fool the Left; it is not that difficult. I can reassure Senator Parer on that point. The matter of the privatisation of the airports is about to come to cabinet. Until it does, and I believe it is this week, there is nothing that I can publicly add to what I have just said. The matter will be considered by the federal cabinet prior to the matter going to the federal conference. It will be considered by the conference next week.