Wednesday, 19 March 2014
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Industry, Senator Ronaldson. I refer the minister to the government's election promise to boost investment in clinical trials—a promise repeated by the industry minister on Monday night. I ask the minister: why is the high-level advisory body on clinical trials, announced and funded by the Labor government in February of last year, still waiting to attend its first meeting? Why is the government stalling on an election promise and bipartisan policy position?
It is always nice to get one of those rare questions from Senator Carr, so I thank him at two minutes past three for doing so. I am still waiting for one from his little mate beside him, but that might come in due course.
What I will say is there has been a lot of talk by Senator Carr in the last week about the importance of science, and that has been intermingled with a bit of sleazy attack on Senator Sinodinos. We have had a mixture of science, and we have had a mixture of sleaze on the way through. But he is not on his own there. I noticed there was a Senate inquiry that Senator Carr has been pushing for in relation to science and innovation. You have to look at this release to really see what drives Senator Carr and what drives the Australian Labor Party. What they have said—
Mr President, I rise again on a point of order on relevance. We have gone to 58 seconds and the minister has gone nowhere near the question, which was specifically about the advisory body on clinical trials.
Honourable senators interjecting—
I will, of course, continue the entirely accurate answer I was giving to that question from Senator Carr. I just want to read a paragraph from this press release. It has to be read to be believed. This is from Senator Carr, who was the in-out, in-out industry minister—
Mr President, I rise on a point of order regarding relevance. I think you have kindly suggested he might want to address the question, but he will be giving us his tips for who is going to play for the Melbourne footy club on the weekend next and defining that as relevant. I would ask you again to draw his attention to the question.
Senator Conroy is right. I am deeply concerned about the outcome of my team's match over the weekend, but not nearly as concerned as I am about the comment from Senator Carr. I will just read this. Now, just remember, Senator Carr, the man who ripped manufacturing jobs out of this country over six years, was the science minister for four, five or six years. (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. This will give you a chance to find your brief, Minister. What action has the government actually taken to ensure that Australia remains an attractive place for global investments in the field of clinical research?
I thank Senator Collins for her much needed interjection. I want to go through this press release, which I have been trying to do now for about three minutes. Can I just go through it. Now, Senator Carr—
Mr President, I raise a point of order on relevance. As I understand it, Senator Ronaldson is seeking to read from a media release of the opposition. He was asked a question about government policy, not about opposition policy.
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I would remind the minister that my question was about clinical trials, and I would ask him: is this not another example of a broken election commitment to the Australian science and innovation community?
Opposition senators interjecting—
I will try again to talk about the future of science, as I have been trying to do now for some time. Senator Carr was the science minister for five years. In his press release with the Leader of the Opposition—
Mr President, again, my point of order is on relevance. The minister has 30 seconds. The issue is about whether this was a broken election promise to the Australian science and innovation community around the issue of clinical trials and research.
I am trying to talk about the future of science. As I was saying, Senator Carr, who was the science minister for six years, put out a press release with the Leader of the Opposition—for six years he was the science minister—and I will read from it. This was an inquiry that got through the Senate. The press release on it said:
The Inquiry will help define a much needed long term strategy for science and innovation …
You were the minister for six years— (Time expired)