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Tuesday, 25 May 1993
Page: 1203


Senator HILL (Leader of the Opposition) —by leave—I want to make a statement in relation to the Minister for Transport and Communications (Senator Collins) seeking further advice from his department on the document relating to aviation safety that Senator Bishop sought to table. We intend to pursue that matter. Senator Collins said that he would require half an hour to decide whether leave could be granted. Nearly an hour has now passed. He has refused leave but he did so on the basis that he is unable to decide whether he will grant leave.

  I do not think it should take any longer than this for him to get the advice of his department as to whether such leave should be granted. It is an important matter; it is a matter in the public interest. If Senator Collins wants to come in here and argue that it is not in the public interest that this document be tabled, we look forward to the argument that he might put in support of such a proposition. But if he is not prepared to do that, he should grant leave.

  We will wait perhaps another half an hour or so and then seek to bring up this matter again. If necessary, we shall seek to suspend the Standing Orders in order to avoid the need for leave. The Australian Democrats have a copy of the documents that we are seeking to table, so they will have time to decide whether, on the merits, they should support the tabling of these documents, which we assert in the strongest terms is in the public interest.