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Wednesday, 14 September 2005
Page: 120

Senator JOYCE (5:19 PM) —I want to know if there is any reason at all why the current government ownership would be a predetermination for a better service than a fully privatised entity—

Opposition senators interjecting—

Senator JOYCE —No, I think this should be on the record. One of the key issues is what actually gets better services out to regional Australia. I cannot for the life of me think of one reason why the current ownership would get better—

Senator Conroy —Madam Temporary Chair, I rise on a point of order. I seriously implore the minister to respond. This is a question about the philosophical basis of ownership. It has nothing to do with the bills. You cannot filibuster in your own gag in the committee stage when you have given us one hour to go.

Senator Ronaldson —On the point of order, with the greatest respect to Senator Conroy, there was a long discussion this morning about job losses. In light of that and a wide range of other topics that were discussed, Senator Joyce is totally within his rights to raise the matter that he is raising.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —There is no point of order.

Senator JOYCE —This is only going to be a short question, and really it does not require much of an answer. I just want to get it on the record. There is always the belief that because the government has sold Telstra it does not get a return from it. Of course it does; it gets 30 per cent of the tax profit, which is a huge return. So, if the company grows and becomes more prosperous, the potential further return from the company is immense. But I am interested to know whether there has been any scoping of what the sale price of the share might be in the future. I want to know that because a future Labor government might be in control of 51.8 per cent of the shares. Everybody needs to know whether Labor would rescind that, whether they would bring it back into public ownership. We need to know whether they would move that motion.

Senator Conroy —You can’t ask the minister a question about Labor policy.

Senator Coonan —I can’t answer it.

Senator Conroy —Correct. He has asked you a question, Minister.

Senator Wong —Madam Temporary Chairman, I rise on a point of order. Minister, are you answering?

Senator Coonan —I am saying that I do not know what Labor’s policy is.

Senator Wong —The minister does not want to answer you, Senator Joyce.

Senator Coonan —I am going to in due course.

Senator Wong —I am happy for the minister to take the call ahead of me to answer the question.