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Monday, 24 May 1993
Page: 1139

Senator ALSTON (Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (10.26 p.m.) —by leave—I move:

  That the Senate take note of the statement and documents.

I do not want to say much at this time except this: the timing of the tabling of these documents is entirely consistent with the approach taken by the Minister for Transport and Communications (Senator Collins) in relation to documents generally. We still have not had from this Minister one iota of an explanation as to why he blatantly and deliberately refused to comply with an order of the Senate that he table documents last Thursday at 12 noon.

Senator Collins —You have had them since 8 o'clock this morning.

Senator ALSTON —The Minister should not worry about that. All we ever got was some half-baked explanation that somehow he went outside the chamber and provided reasons why it would have been convenient to do it in some other way. I simply want to say that the Senate ought to be entitled to have Ministers comply with solemn resolutions. If they do not, they ought to have very good reasons why not and they ought to come into the chamber and explain in advance when they do not have any intention of complying. All we have had from this Minister is, basically, consent to the order being made and, from that point on, complete contempt for its consequences. Now, at 25 minutes past 10, we have documents, about which all these pious promises were made, being tabled.

Senator Collins —Talk to your leader, whom I spoke to an hour ago.

Senator ALSTON —I understand.

Senator Collins —You do, do you?

Senator ALSTON —Yes, I understand. I have just been informed that the Minister did seek to table them a couple of hours ago. I am simply saying that, despite all the nonsense about making them available over the weekend and, `We'll do our best and we'll try to get them to you, wherever we are', the fact is that the documents turned up on Monday morning with no particular accompanying note, except some letter which I could not comprehend, and, yet again, no explanation as to why the Minister did not comply with that resolution in the first place. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

  Leave granted; debate adjourned.