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Monday, 16 September 1996
Page: 3513

Senator HARRADINE(4.48 p.m.) —This debate and how it is voted on will make not the slightest difference as to whether or not one-third of Telstra is sold. I have some difficulties with the motion before us; I will mention a couple of them.

After Senator Alston made his statement last Monday fortnight, I wrote to him and challenged him as to whether the government were ideologically motivated or whether they just wanted to have the $8 billion. What the proponents of this motion have forgotten, so far as I have heard in this debate thus far, is that the one-third sale of Telstra is to obtain $8 billion, $7 billion of which would go to debt redemption. That is something that has got to be thought about as well. I have offered a solution to that—that we go along the redeemable preference share line. You could have your cake and eat it too. I am not going to go into that because I have not got time. I am not convinced just yet that the government is totally ideologically motivated.

We have heard about outstanding performance in respect of profitability and efficiency in public ownership. I hope that is the case. It is yet to be seen in some areas of Australia. No matter what I say here, it will not mean anything. Presumably it is not going to mean anything in future for some of the people who made certain comments today. For example, the mover of this motion, Senator Kernot, asked whether I had made deals with the government. She said she did not know for certain whether I had, but that it was likely.

Senator Kernot —I did not.

Senator HARRADINE —She said, `It is likely, but I have no knowledge of this. My attitude in principle is that once you put your vote up for sale, you can possibly be bought on everything.' Senator Kernot then pontificated on a number of other areas. It was not only her. Another Democrat made a similar statement, which I am very surprised about. I am very surprised that you should imply that there is some sort of deal being done between the government and me over Telstra.

I also noted the statements made by ex-senator Evans, now the shadow Treasurer, about this matter. If he thinks his arguments and the government's arguments on the budget have no effect on me, that is their problem, is it not? (Time expired)