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Thursday, 26 June 2008
Page: 3549

Senator CONROY (Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy) (4:13 PM) —Thank goodness he only wanted to ask one question! Senator Joyce, as I am sure you are aware, the comprehensiveness of those questions could not possibly be addressed in this chamber this afternoon.

Senator Joyce interjecting—

Senator CONROY —Perhaps, when this bill was passing through your party room originally, you should have actually been awake at the time and asked these questions of your own government, who actually drafted, created and endorsed this, which was passed by your party room. But the point is that with the general agreement of everybody in the chamber, it seems, there will be a Senate committee to investigate thoroughly all of those matters. In fact, if you are quick I am sure Senator Ronaldson will take shorthand for you and actually write all of those issues into the terms of reference of the committee, Senator Joyce.

The depth and scale of those questions go well beyond the capacity for the officers in the chamber to deal with. These are matters that should have been raised last week when this bill was actually debated. They should have been considered in an inquiry that took place prior to the legislation appearing in the chamber. But that is spilt milk, if you like. To address those questions, there seems to be a general agreement that we have an inquiry.

Senator Joyce —With goodwill?

Senator CONROY —Genuinely with goodwill. I have got no problem with seeking that information for you. As I said, if we can get that written into the terms of reference—

Senator Joyce interjecting—

Senator CONROY —It is all on the public record, so the officers who will be appearing before the committee will be well aware of the information that you are seeking, and I am sure that you will be robustly pursuing them—as will Senator Milne, Senator Brown, Senator Boswell, Senator Heffernan and Senator Fielding. I do not think that there is any chance that this committee inquiry is going to be a squib, given the extent of Senator Milne’s questions, Senator Heffernan’s and your own. It is in the transcript; it is in the Hansard. Those officers who come to the committee will be well prepared and able to assist you in your discussions and deliberations on that.