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Monday, 9 December 2002
Page: 7469

Senator CHERRY (5:09 PM) —I am delighted that One Nation is supporting my amendment; it is a pity that we did not get a bit more support around the chamber. I want to put on the record that I am pleased that Senator Lundy in her comments noted that the ALP has been looking at the issue of appointments to the ABC board. I have noted the comments of ALP senators in the recent Senate committee report on that issue. We will ensure you get a chance to vote on that some time early next year. So we will have that debate then.

I want to talk about whether the issue of consultation with the states is an adequate substitute for merit based appointments. I do not believe it is, because the notion of state ministers and a federal minister negotiating over an appointment—while that is better than a federal minister making that appointment on their own—still does not get to the fundamental issue of who is the best person for the job. In that circumstance you are considering the appointment put up by the federal minister. There has not been a merit based process to come up with the name that the federal minister puts forward to the state ministers. We saw that difficulty with the recent nomination of Graeme Samuel as the deputy chair of the ACCC, which apparently the minister has not seen reported in the media.

Senator Alston —I did not say that. You were talking about appointments that had been made.

Senator CHERRY —I was talking about the appointment process.

Senator Alston —You are now talking about appointments that mightn't be made.

Senator CHERRY —It was not made, and probably will not be made. The key point is that, if there had been a merit based process in place before that name was put forward by the federal minister to the state ministers, the government would not have got into so much trouble. So, with this amendment, we are trying to save the government from trouble by ensuring that the names that go forward are the best possible names in a transparent process. It is a pity that the government is not prepared to accept our bit of help on this matter.

Question negatived.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Cook)—The question now is that the bill, as amended, be agreed to.