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Liberals wasting time in vital hearings

Australian Greens climate change spokesperson, Senator Christine Milne, expressed outrage at the deliberate time-wasting by Liberal Senator David Johnston and others in Estimates hearings on climate change tonight.

Senator Milne said, "It beggars belief that Senator Johnston could waste a full three quarters of an hour of vital hearings about an issue of global importance asking pointless and offensive questions about the details of Professor Garnaut's personal employment contract.

"The Secretary of the Department, Dr Michael Parkinson, must be congratulated for finally putting the Senator in his place, telling him that he was 'now going into an area which I think is inappropriate to discuss'.

"This comes after the Liberals delayed the Estimates hearings for the Department of Climate Change by two days thanks to time wasting in the Finance and Public Administration Committee on Tuesday.

"Once Senator Johnston finally moved on from the Professor's contract, he asked a series of simplistic questions that he could have answered with a few minutes spent looking at the Garnaut Review website, followed by more nitpicking about who is paying whose salaries.

"The only worthwhile and relevant point Senator Johnston made was to say, in passing, that 'I'm not in a position to ask the right questions'. If that is so, Senator, what on Earth are you doing in these hearings?

"How utterly irresponsible of the Liberal Party that, in the face of a global crisis, they waste time, dumb down the debate, and send in someone who clearly knows nothing about it. However, given the actions of both of the old parties over oil depletion, looking at the debate at the most superficial level, it is hardly surprising.

"Our senior public servants must lose even more confidence in the political process when they give up their days and evenings to be subjected to studied ignorance from the Opposition Senators."

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