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Thursday, 12 March 1998
Page: 992


Senator O'BRIEN (6:05 PM) —I want to refer to a press release that I received today from ACIL Economics, which was purportedly authorised by the Minister for Workplace Relations and Small Business (Mr Reith). It purports to reveal an aspect of the ACIL Economics report that was delivered to the government in 1996 and which this government declares as commercial-in-confidence and cabinet-in-confidence. The press release says that the aspect of the report that it reveals has been authorised to be revealed by Minister Reith.

I have also stated in this chamber—and it has not been denied—that this and other reports which are the subject of returns to order in this chamber and which have not been produced to this chamber and are allegedly commercial-in-confidence have been revealed to the National Farmers' Federation.

I call on the minister responsible in this chamber, Senator Alston, to come in here and to produce for the Senate the documents which are the subject of the returns to order which relate to the waterfront consultancies, as I will call them, and which are the subject of the particular press release that I received from ACIL Economics today. If it is good enough for these items to be given to the National Farmers Federation or for parts of them to be given to the media for the purpose of the government's argument, then it is good enough for the Senate to have all of those documents. I would suggest that it is time the minister came in here and complied with the order of the Senate, stopped dribbling pieces out to suit his own purpose and came clean with the Senate. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.