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

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 21 June 2006
Page: 41

Senator FIELDING (Leader of the Family First Party) (12:15 PM) —Everyone hates unwanted calls, whether they be from someone trying to sell a new connection to a telco, flog a so-called trip to the Bahamas or do a survey, which we are always told will only take a few minutes. But surely the most annoying calls of all would be from politicians or political parties. Who wants to be preparing the dinner or getting the kids off to bed and then be harassed by politicians chasing votes or pollsters chasing opinions? It is enough to make you want to disconnect the phone. Who can forget the 2004 election campaign when families across the nation received prerecorded phone messages from the Prime Minister and the Treasurer? Family First says family life stalls when a politician calls.

Family First supports the overall objective of the Do Not Call Register Bill 2006 and the Do Not Call Register (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2006, which is to enable families to declare their homes nuisance call free zones. However, Family First strongly opposes the special exemption for politicians and political parties. What a joke that politicians and political parties have given themselves a green light to bombard Australian families with their annoying calls. Family First believes that the exemption is just another example of hypocrisy—one rule for politicians and another one for everybody else. Why do we politicians think we are so special that we should be above the law? Receiving a phone call at home used to be a happy event, when you could chat with family or friends; these days our homes are like bunkers, with answering machines to filter unwanted calls.

Family First has seen a number of media releases from government MPs spruiking this bill, but not one has mentioned that politicians and political parties get special treatment. Instead, they refer to exemptions for organisations with ‘public interest objectives’, but who would know what that means? Not even the minister’s second reading speech mentioned the exemption for politicians and political parties.

If you told any ordinary Australian that the government was setting up a Do Not Call Register but exempting politicians and political parties, I think I know what their reaction would be. They would probably say two things. One would be, ‘Typical!’ The other would be, ‘What a bunch of hypocrites.’ Perhaps, instead of being called the Do Not Call Register Bill, this legislation should be called the Do Not Call Unless You Are a Politician Bill. I understand that in Britain, where a similar scheme operates, political parties are not given an exemption. Family First will move an amendment to overturn the special treatment for politicians and political parties, because family life stalls when politicians call. I am pleased that the Democrats support Family First on that.

Family First is also concerned that registrations will only be valid for three years, so Australians will have to reregister after three years, even if their phone number has not changed. That does not seem to make sense, and I would appreciate it if the minister could provide some information about why that is the case. Surely it is reasonable to expect that registrations would remain current unless a person’s details changed.

Family First will support the bills because Australian families do not want nuisance calls. However, Family First is disappointed that this legislation is yet another example of one rule for politicians and another rule for everybody else. It is a real shame that, unless Family First’s amendments are supported by the major parties, which I doubt will happen, Australians will still be subjected to the worst nuisance calls of all—those from politicians and political parties.