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Wednesday, 24 June 2009
Page: 4206


Senator COLBECK (5:44 PM) —I seek leave to make a personal explanation.

Leave granted.


Senator COLBECK —At question time today I asked Senator Carr a question about the paper industry strategy group that was being established, its time frame and the decision proposed to be made by the owners of two paper mills on the north-west coast of Tasmania by the end of the month. During his response to my question, Senator Carr suggested that I was spreading false and malicious rumours with respect to this matter. He also said:

I am not aware that the company intends to make a decision next week. We have not been advised of that. Senator, I suggest you go back to your sources and check your facts.

He also said:

... you should make sure you rely on genuine documents when it comes to this sort of advice.

In my view, that was a deliberate attempt to make the assertion that I was relying on false documents with respect to the question and the supplementary questions that I asked Senator Carr. I would like to suggest that Senator Carr might like to reconsider those remarks when he reflects on the Hansard.

To reinforce my views and perspective on this, I would like to source the documents that I have used in putting my questions to Senator Carr at question time today. The first is a press release from Mr Sid Sidebottom MP, the federal member for Braddon. A comment attributed to Senator Carr by Mr Sidebottom in that press release reads:

The strategy group will run in parallel with the current company review, which is intended to be completed by the end of June—

And that is next week. I also refer to an Australian Stock Exchange release by PaperlinX, who, in speaking about the sale of PaperlinX’s business to Nippon Paper, said:

As previously reported, the sale excludes the two Tasmanian mills at Burnie and Wesley Vale ...

…       …            …

A detailed review of these operations is expected to be completed by the end of June 2009.

I also cite an answer given by Senator Carr on Monday, 22 June in response to a question from Senator Brown. Senator Carr said:

The future of the Burnie and Wesley Vale mills is currently under consideration by Tas Paper, or PaperlinX, and I understand a decision may be made by the end of June.

That is next week.

I was not spreading false and malicious rumours about these issues, and I am perplexed by Senator Carr’s assertion that I was. But I do note that this week Senator Carr has two quite contrary versions of an answer to this question on the public record, on Hansard. Today he says:

I am not aware that the company intends to make a decision next week—

that is, at the end of June. And on Monday, 22 June he said:

The future of the Burnie and Wesley Vale mills is currently under consideration by Tas Paper, or PaperlinX, and I understand a decision may be made by the end of June.

I would like Senator Carr to perhaps reconsider his remarks with respect to me. But he may also need to consider the remarks he made to the chamber with respect to the two questions he has answered this week.