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Tuesday, 10 September 1985
Page: 327

Senator PUPLICK —I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Communications. Has the Minister seen a Press release issued by the Minister for Communications dated 28 August announcing that a new study is to be undertaken into television station ownership rules? Is it a fact that the terms of reference of the study direct it to have regard to `the Government's stated policy objectives'? Does the release go on in a footnote to record that these policy objectives are to be found in two ministerial Press releases and a speech to the Federation of Australian Commercial Television Stations? Why is it that the Government's stated policy objectives have not been outlined in a statement made to the Parliament but rather in media releases or speeches made outside the Parliament? Will the Minister now ask his colleague to do this Parliament the courtesy of making such vital and significant policy statements to the Parliament itself where they can be debated in full?

Senator WALSH —Surprisingly, I am not aware of that Press statement issued by Mr Duffy, apparently on 28 August, but I will put the substance of Senator Puplick's request and question to Mr Duffy for his response and in particular I will ask whether Mr Duffy will consider making a statement in the Parliament about this matter. That is a decision for Mr Duffy to make, of course. Should Mr Duffy decide to make such a statement and it is fully debated, as Senator Puplick suggests, I think there would be a severe embarrassment for the Liberal Party of Australia because the logical responder to the statement would be the Liberal Party's leading wet, Mr Macphee, in what is now supposed to be a dry party.

Senator PUPLICK —I ask a supplementary question. Is it not a fact that the reason Parliament has not been favoured with a statement by Mr Duffy is that, if there is any severe embarrassment, it would be occasioned by the Minister trying to make a settlement about all the contradictory policies which so far he has only managed to dribble out in Press releases?

Senator WALSH —I am not aware of any contradictory policies dribbled out by way of Press release or in any other way by Mr Duffy. I am, however, aware of a gaggle of contradictory policies, both past and present, being dribbled out by the present Opposition. If Senator Puplick likes to hang around for the next hour, I will give him a few examples.