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Thursday, 13 May 1993
Page: 531

Senator BOURNE (12.09 p.m.) —The tendering document for pay TV satellite licences was obviously flawed, by anyone's standards, in that it did not require a percentage non-refundable deposit at the time of allocation of the licence to demonstrate the financial bona fides of the successful tenderer. I do not think anybody would disagree with that. The Australian Democrats still advocate, and we have done this all along, that for all licence tenders there should be some merit based requirements. Financial and business plans should be lodged in all cases. The national interest must always be taken into account. We still want to see those requirements put on all future tenders.

  There is no reason, however, in this debate to go over the reasons why this tender document was flawed. That debate will occur when the findings of Professor Pearce's inquiry are tabled. We have told the Minister for Transport and Communications (Senator Collins) that we want a reasonable time to consider the findings of the inquiry, and he has agreed to that. We expect to see that report by Professor Pearce on the table in the Senate so that we have at least the last week of sitting for this session to consider it. The Minister is nodding, so he is agreeing to that too.

  We believe that the tender document was basically flawed when the financial deposit was omitted. If we are going to see pay TV in this country—and I still say, as I did in the last debate, that we do not see that it is a major priority—we might as well have a tender that proceeds smoothly from today where everybody knows where they stand. It is all up in the air at the moment. We want something firm and we want it today. We will, therefore, be supporting this amendment.