Senate debates

Thursday, 19 October 2006

Trade Practices Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2005

Consideration of House of Representatives Message

11:37 am

Photo of Stephen ConroyStephen Conroy (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

All on merit. But he was always prepared to face up to it and to detail why it was that he was taking the position that he was. I have to say that, so far—to borrow an old phrase—Senator Fielding is no Senator Harradine. You cannot hide behind ‘I haven’t made a decision’; you cannot hide behind ‘Family First policy is’. You have to explain it. You have to be prepared to front up at press conferences and answer questions. If you have met with James Packer, just say you have. Do not spend five minutes trying to avoid the question. There is nothing wrong with meeting media moguls; there is nothing wrong with meeting James Packer; there is nothing wrong with being genuinely involved in the discussion on this issue. But always be prepared to articulate your position. Labor has a position on this bill and on the cross-media bill. Labor has always been prepared to argue its case. Sometimes that case does not have the support of this chamber; sometimes it has. But we will always have our spokespeople stand up and argue our case.

I am not sure whether Senator Fielding is going to come back and finish his contribution. I am disappointed he is not here. I know we are all very busy in this chamber. He could be at a committee hearing; he could be involved in serious discussions on other policy matters. But when he is changing his vote he has an obligation to the chamber to explain why. He particularly has an obligation to explain to the 10,000 Transport Workers Union independent contractor members and their families why it is that he is going to vote to take away their right to choose who represents them in certain legal forums.


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