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Tuesday, 15 October 2002
Page: 5121

Senator KIRK (2:31 PM) —My question is to Senator Alston, the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. Has the government had discussions with telecommunications carriers, particularly Telstra, to see what sorts of special arrangements can be put in place to help those Australians in Bali or those Australians with friends and family in Bali to contact one another? If so, can the minister advise us of the nature of those special arrangements?

Senator ALSTON (Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) —I am not aware of any specific request being made to the government or, indeed, that there have been problems to date for people in making calls to their family and friends and others in Australia. However, I would expect that, in the course of his visit to both Bali and Jakarta, the Minister for Foreign Affairs will take a comprehensive view of the needs to which we may be able to sympathetically respond. If communications issues were a problem, then clearly there would be scope for us to address those. If that involved pursuing the matter with individual telecommunications companies, that would certainly be something that the government would seriously consider. As I said, I am not aware to date that these matters have caused problems, but we will be in a better position to judge that when we hear from the foreign minister later in the week.