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Wednesday, 14 June 1989
Page: 4027


Senator POWELL(7.21) —I ask Senator Bishop to note, first, that, as I said, the proposed amendment of the Opposition to the telecommunications legislation was inappropriate and very badly worded and would not have satisfied the need; and secondly, that this amendment, as it is framed, actually puts the question of where the given department, whichever one it is-in this case there are two departments-places this activity in its overall framework of the costs and benefits that it sees for its clients, unlike the thrust of the Opposition's amendment last week which was an exhortation, which would have had to have been implemented, according to the Opposition, apparently posthaste and therefore without the opportunity of the department concerned to give any consideration to the costs and ramifications in the short term.

The Democrats are very concerned about sending off a reference of this nature to a Senate committee, especially given that the amendments will be passed and therefore will be implemented, which, as I say, is in the hands of the department concerned. It seems to us to be a fairly futile reference. To take Senator Bishop's concern and complaint about our earlier amendments, this is a move on which we have not been consulted and I am not sure whether the Committee itself has been consulted. It is therefore very difficult for us to support a reference to a committee when we do not have any knowledge at all of whether the committee is willing or able to accept that reference. Given that we do not believe that the reference is necessary, it does not move us to support Senator Bishop's foreshadowed proposal.