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Thursday, 17 June 2010
Page: 3676

Senator FIERRAVANTI-WELLS (3:49 PM) —by leave—I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

I want to make a number of comments. I put on record my thanks to the President for clarifying this matter yet again with Minister Roxon. What this has clearly demonstrated is that this is either a deliberate attempt to obstruct the rules of the Senate or somebody in the minister’s department cannot read standing orders. Given the mess that the department and health generally are in in this country, it does not surprise me that yet again the President has had to clarify the position to Minister Roxon.

The reality is that this request for the production of documents was made to Minister Roxon in light of the fact that there was a Senate Community Affairs References Committee inquiry into consumer access to pharmaceutical benefits. The terms of reference are very explicit. We had a hearing in relation to this matter. Just yesterday, the Senate referred the provisions of the National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) Bill 2010 for inquiry by the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee. Therefore, not only will these documents be relevant for the inquiry of the references committee but also, I foreshadow, relevant to the new legislation inquiry that has been referred to the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee.

These documents need to be produced. While I appreciate the comments that have been made by the minister about it taking considerable time to locate these documents, the minister has had more than ample time. For the sake of the process, I am happy to allow another short period of time for Minister Roxon and her department to get their house in order and to produce the required documents. They have had sufficient time. We will give them a little bit more time. But I foreshadow that at some stage I will be formally requesting the production of those documents in the not-too-distant future.

Question agreed to.