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Monday, 5 June 1989
Page: 3370

Senator GARETH EVANS (Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade)(10.03) —There is so much synthetic indignation I can live with at 10 o'clock at night-but it is synthetic indignation and has no justification in fact. Imagine a simple technical fault which is, let us say, the product of some linesman's negligence and which results in a phone call or a fax not getting through, some massive multi-billion dollar John Elliott-style deal not getting through as a result. That is the kind of circumstance, to take the hypothesis--

Senator Alston —Why should they miss out?

Senator GARETH EVANS —Because the consequences of the burden will then be borne by the whole of the taxpaying and telephone service consuming community, which is a very socialist principle that I am glad to hear Senator Alston is adopting. It is the telecommunications equivalent of the whole kingdom being lost for want of a horseshoe nail. We are all familiar with that childhood parable. It was pretty persuasive in my primary school and I am sure that, if the honourable senator really concentrates very hard, he will appreciate the force of the very simple point that is there being made. A traditional immunity has been involved here in relation to the services of this kind. We believe that that immunity should be continued in the interests of the larger community, whatever Senator Alston's mates happened to think about the consequences of it.