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Tuesday, 30 August 1994
Page: 555

Senator GIBSON —My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for Transport. I ask the minister: what impact has publication of the Salomon Bros/Price Waterhouse report which values ANL at liquidation prices had on the market value of ANL; how does the minister reconcile publication of the report with the government's responsibility to maintain the value of taxpayers' stake in ANL; was not publication of the report, which made ANL unsaleable—if it was not before—designed simply to remove ANL's privatisation from the ALP conference agenda; and how much will taxpayers have to pay for this political stunt?

Senator COLLINS —I am astonished by this question. I wonder if the honourable senator could have a word with his frontbench colleague Senator Alston, who is temporarily distracted—

Senator Cook —Permanently.

Senator COLLINS —Permanently distracted—about the notice of motion. The question asks me to comment—it would be a very subjective judgment—on the potential damage to ANL's trading position because of the very proper, I must say, tabling of an edited version of the report, from which commercially sensitive information has been deleted and in respect of which the minister has, I believe, acted very responsibly in putting as much information about the decision the government took as he could.

  But the honourable senator is criticising the government for doing so. His frontbench colleague Senator Alston has a notice of motion, due to be debated today, demanding the production and tabling in this parliament of every single, solitary piece of paper connected with ANL. I suggest that before he asks another such question he actually organises a joint position with Senator Alston and gets his act together.