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Wednesday, 16 March 2005
Page: 50

Senator CHERRY (12:39 PM) —I do have to respond to those comments from Senator Coonan.

Senator Conroy —Defend your honour!

Senator CHERRY —I am going to defend my honour. It is quite clear that the amendments that I moved to the ACMA Bill could have stood in the ACMA Bill. The long title of that bill makes it quite clear that they could have stood in that particular bill. I thought it was more appropriate, when the minister raised the issue, that they be in the consequential amendments bill. I am prepared to accept that but they could have stood where they were. So, rather than being a farce, it was actually a matter of trying to clean it up in terms of which bills come back from the House. So I do not accept that. I also should note that the minister’s office has had these amendments for several days and has been in consultation with my office and has never raised the issue of whether or not they were being included in the correct bill. So it is a little rich for the minister to stand up and point this out as an example.

I do not accept the argument that these amendments are a farce. The amendment to the Telecommunications Act, as I said, has been before ACMA for months because it came out of the consumer driven strategies report that ACMA itself sanctioned. I presume it has been in the minister’s office for months on that very basis. The Broadcasting Services Act amendment, which I have just spoken to, came out of the Senate committee report—the committee reported last week—and has been on the table for some days. From that point of view, it is not a farce. We have tried to make it a little bit more consistent to give the government a bit of appropriate latitude in terms of messages coming back from the House but I think the amendments as they stood in their first draft certainly would have stood from a legal point of view.