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Tuesday, 15 March 2005
Page: 60

Senator CONROY (4:28 PM) —Firstly, I indicate some disappointment that the government have taken this position. I would also like to thank all of the minor parties, the Greens and the Democrats and other senators who supported these amendments. They are worthy amendments and it is only through the debate in this place that we have been able to shift the government on some important issues. It is only through your support, Senator Brown and Senator Cherry, that we have made a difference to hundreds of thousands of Australian soccer fans around the country. We have actually got the government to move part of the way to resolving the debacle that they created when they removed the soccer World Cup from the antisiphoning list.

These amendments will ensure that the World Cup soccer will be seen on free-to-air television, something that was in danger because of this government’s decision to delist. The way to absolutely clear this up is for it to be part of the legislation, as we moved by way of amendments. As I said the other day, I take Senator Coonan at her word; she is an honourable woman. Her word would have been enough for me. But a few of her colleagues are a little bit suss—they do not understand like you do, Senator Coonan, the importance of the soccer World Cup to hundreds of thousands of Australians. So I am disappointed that the government have rejected our amendments. It calls into question their bona fides that they will never delist it in the future. I wish you had had a bit more success there, Senator Coonan, in batting hard against those antisoccer people in the government.

Equally, on the loophole issue, there is again disappointment. This is an issue that will not go away, Senator Coonan. As your own colleagues on the Senate committee said, this is an issue that you need to look at—that is, whether the intent of the antisiphoning list is being undermined either directly or indirectly. I think these are issues that you will need to consider. So, with reluctance, I indicate that Labor will not be insisting on our amendments. But, again, I thank the chamber for supporting our amendments. It has made an important difference in this particular instance.