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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Page: 2922

Senator PAYNE (New South WalesMinister for Defence) (15:08): I rise to make a statement to the Senate in relation to an order for production of documents. It frankly remains a mystery to all Australians who are interested in ensuring that Australia has a continuous naval shipbuilding program and the industry to support that why alone amongst the vast majority of Australians Senator Patrick seems unable to support that himself. It's a mystery to me and it's a mystery to his South Australian constituents. Nevertheless, we will provide some response this afternoon to his most recent motions.

It is typical histrionics from Senator Patrick to claim that the government has shown a profound lack of respect in its response to the Senate, to the President, by the letter of Minister Cormann of 12 February. In fact, if you know anything about tendering, if you know anything about significant contracts and if you know anything about national security then you would be of the view that it is perfectly reasonable, it is appropriate and it is proper that the government properly consider the circumstances under which information is publicly released where the release may have an impact on international relations and where it may unfairly prejudice the commercial interests of an entity or, indeed, of the Commonwealth. This government, perhaps unlike Senator Patrick, takes those responsibilities seriously. Further, unlike Senator Patrick's approach, this government will always act responsibly on such matters, especially when it relates to a program of such importance to our national security and to international relations.

In accordance with Senator Cormann's letter to the President when he was representing me in this place on 12 February, I will be writing to the President further on this matter.