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Labor blocks FuelWatch scrutiny.

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- MEDIA RELEASE - SENATOR THE HON. ERIC ABETZ Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research

Media enquiries: Brad Stansfield 0419 884 666 1

A0875 28th August 2008

Labor blocks FuelWatch scrutiny

In Senate Question Time today, Labor Senators blocked Coalition attempts to question the Chair of the Senate Economics Committee, Senator Annette Hurley, about yesterday's unexpected and unnecessary interim FuelWatch report, Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Eric Abetz, said today.

"The Senate's standing orders provide that Committee Chairs may be questioned about the activities of the Committee", Senator Abetz said.

"However, Labor Senators sought to oppose Senator Hurley being questioned, firstly arguing that the question was out of order, and then, when given the opportunity, failing to grant leave for the question to be asked.

"What have Labor got to hide by protecting Senator Hurley from questioning?

"It seems clear that Labor rushed out the interim Fuelwatch report in an attempt to revive support for it.

"This attempt has spectacularly failed, and now Labor want to cover up the process their majority on the Economics Committee undertook.

The question asked by Senator Abetz was as follows:

"My question about the urgency for releasing an interim report on Fuelwatch is directed to the Chair of the Economics Committee.

What was the urgency for releasing an interim report on Fuelwatch?"

When Labor Senators moved to block the question, Coalition Senators noted Standing Order 72(1), which reads in part 'At the time provided questions may be put to…other Senators relating to any matter connected with the business of the Notice Paper of which Senators have charge."

Senator Abetz said that Coalition Senators disagreed with the President's ruling that the was question out of order, and subsequently that the question could not be put by leave as provided under Standing Order 72(2)a; and noted that the Senate President had committed to further considering his ruling.