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Tuesday, 6 June 1989
Page: 3406


Senator ALSTON(12.06) —Perhaps students of the arcane and the abstruse might be comforted by that, but I do not read subclause 29 (1) as confining the Minister's directions to equal employment opportunity policies and the like, although I have heard it said on a number of occasions. Certainly that has been the basis of discussions in the course of the draft Bill considerations. Nonetheless, on its face, that would allow some fairly wide-ranging directions to be given to Austel. We can all assume that the directions will be given on non-controversial matters, but they could equally be given on highly controversial matters. It all depends on the length of the chancellor's foot.

If the Minister takes the view that the exercise of Austel's powers requires it to conduct only one public hearing a year, what does it do-cellular mobile television services or common interest group? I would have thought that the provision is open to a very broad interpretation. If that is the case, one should not distinguish it from the other explicit policy directions that might be given. No good reason has been advanced for why it should not be tabled in the Parliament. We are not saying it should be a disallowable instrument, but simply that the Parliament should be in a position to know as soon as possible what is going on.