Senate debates

Thursday, 14 February 2008


Agricultural and Related Industries Committee; State Government Financial Management Committee; Housing Affordability in Australia Committee; Establishment

11:46 am

Photo of Bill HeffernanBill Heffernan (NSW, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I withdraw that; I will tone it down. In the interview for the ABC’s Country Hour, I said that we should have a reference to the rural, regional and transport committee. After a week, when the ABC did not run the interview, I rang up the girl in the ABC and asked: ‘How come you didn’t run it?’ I was told that they had had editorial direction from Melbourne that they are not allowed run stories about opposition propositions until they get a response from the government. I rang the editorial directors in Melbourne, and they used all these weasel words about why they could not run the story. I asked, publicly, for this to be referred to the rural and regional affairs committee. So what happened? The ABC rang up Chris Bowen. I have spoken to Chris, and he said: ‘No, we won’t let it go to the rural, regional and transport committee. We’ll send it off to the ACCC and tack it on to the end of the food inquiry.’ The government is entitled to do that—just as we are entitled to say that it should go to the rural, regional and transport committee. That is your doing, not our doing. You put the argument that this could have gone off there—but you knocked that back. You cannot eat your own weasel words—you knocked it back.

This is not about damaging the government. This committee is about protecting our farmers. This is about assisting the government. Let me tell you another fact that you probably do not know. There is only one person in the government who has lived in the bush and has had to make a living in the bush, and that is the new member for Leichhardt.

Yesterday was a great day for Australia. Democracy is a great thing. The election changed the government. You face the reality for rural Australia that the government has changed. So what do you do? You think, ‘We’ve got to make sure that the government does not mess up rural Australia.’ That is my attitude. I was pleased to see that Penny Wong, given that the government had changed—


No comments