Department officials have shed little light on what the government plans to do if Google delivers on its threat to pull the plug on its search engine from Australia, a parliamentary committee has heard.
Senior figures in Treasury and the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications told senators on Monday afternoon it wasn't willing to comment on whether the government had a contingency plan if Google followed through on its plan to cut search services in Australia.
Treasury deputy secretary Meghan Quinn remained tight-lipped on the specifics despite tough questioning by senators.
"The government has thought long and hard and had a very comprehensive policy consideration for this code and has thought about all aspects of the code and has put before this committee in Parliament its final deliberation," Ms Quinn said.
Independent Senator Rex Patrick and Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young pushed the deputy secretary to admit whether a plan existed at all.
Ms Quinn said she would take the questions on notice to discuss with the minister but added there had been some consideration of it.
"It goes a little bit to what you define a plan to be," Ms Quinn said.
"So it's not quite a simple conversation at all, [there's] the analysis about what the implications are, of different scenarios ... [which] have been considered as part of the policy considerations."
While other search engines existed, Google Search has long dominated the market with a lion's share of 94 per cent. Along with its popular search engine, it had also integrated other services such as YouTube and Gmail into its suite.
Labor Senator Alex Gallacher added the impact of the tech giant pulling its Australian services would directly impact small businesses relying on search traffic.
Ms Quinn said analysis was ongoing but cautioned it was dependent on many variables and how negotiations progressed.
"It depends on the availability of substitutes for [small businesses] to be able to reach markets and it would depend on the on the behaviours of consumers in response to those services being withdrawn," Ms Quinn said.
"We've looked at the implications, we've thought through what the behaviours and the opportunities are. It's fair to say that analysis is ongoing and would very much depend on the actions of both sides of the market."