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Tuesday, 10 February 2015
Page: 250

Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (13:02): This is a pattern of behaviour that the government has adopted—as I said, very much the cigar smoking in the sedan chair with complete contempt for the Senate. The fact is that government has done this on a number of occasions, and I am just going to point it out for all and sundry, and that is: to just sit there and refuse to answer the questions, to leave the people answering the questions to ask in consecutive order because nobody else is here to support them, and then to use the chair—not in your case, Mr Deputy President, but in other cases—to call the order in terms of how many questions are asked without an intervention and get a vote on the issue. This is contempt of the Senate. We want answers to the questions. It is surely not too hard for the minister to actually answer the questions. I have asked him: what is the difference between what he is proposing and what Senator Wong is proposing, because what Senator Wong is proposing, via the minister, has not been to a Senate committee. There has been no opportunity, other than this stage in the committee, to have that, and so I am going to ask specifically: is Telstra one of the companies that would have been captured by both, and, having assumed that it is, will the minister say why a company like Telstra would now not take their R&D offshore and therefore undermine the research capacity of places like the University of New South Wales and other universities around the country? Why won't that occur? Secondly, did the minister consult with AusBiotech or any other of the umbrella groups for small research and development companies about quarterly payments, or did he just arrogantly decide to dismiss it on the basis of intuition?