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Friday, 28 June 1996
Page: 2575

Senator KERNOT (Leader of the Australian Democrats)(2.56 p.m.) —Mr Chairman, I hope we are all noting that the minister will not say, `Yes, we did it.' He will not set the record straight.

Senator Short —It has nothing to do with it; it is a totally irrelevant situation.

Senator KERNOT —It has everything to do with the precedent of what we are doing. It has everything to do with it. It was okay for you, in opposition, to take that action. You cannot say it was irrelevant and inappropriate. We note that you avoid answering the question because the answer is yes, you did it.

Senator Faulkner —I think you've exposed him.

Senator Short —I think she has answered her own—

Senator KERNOT —Thank you. I will have that interjection recorded. You did not say that. You said that I have answered the question.

Senator Faulkner —Will you also acknowledge my interjection, that you have exposed him?

Senator KERNOT —Thank you, I will. I would like to acknowledge that interjection, too, Senator Faulkner. That is why I reject these accusations that what we are doing is inappropriate. That is why I have said that when the government brings in omnibus tax bills, as it will be likely to do in the next session, we will regard those bills as appropriate bills to revisit this issue.

The second area I would like to address to the minister is this matter of quoting letters from the Business Council of Australia and from Mr Brown, the chief executive of the tourism task force. Minister, I have got that letter from the Business Council. As I said, I think you get it before I do. I think you usually get it before I get it, but, yes, I do have it. We refer to it. I read it.

Nowhere do you actually say that you have got any letters from the coalition of transport action group or the action for public transport group or numerous individuals who actually have views on this matter. All you care about are the views of the Business Council of Australia. You never talk about public transport action groups or individual citizens who just happen to think this is plain bad policy.

Senator Calvert —How much money do they generate?

Senator KERNOT —Oh, what an arrogant interjection! How much money do they generate? They pay their taxes the same as anybody else, Senator Calvert. What an arrogant interjection that is. I hope the public transport groups get to hear about that arrogant interjection: how much money do they generate to the economy?

On the matter of Mr Brown, whom Senator Short quoted, why would we be surprised that Mr Brown says today that the tourism task force wants the ALP and the Democrats to support the government's legislation? What Senator Short neglected to tell us is that this was at a function where the government is giving the task force $20,000 towards one of their projects. Of course they are going to stick to the script, aren't they? They do not want the cheque taken back, do they? Why would we be surprised that Mr Brown said that?

So I do not see that as any development in the argument at all, Senator Short, that would make your case any more compelling or persuasive. The public policy issue is: the Senate agreed to your request for the extension of the allowance to these projects—we agreed to it. We also said it is not appropriate to have roads. It is as simple as that. We insist.