Wednesday, 24 February 2016
Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016; Second Reading
It is interesting that the mover of the motion, the member for Eden-Monaro, offered no reason why this is being moved. It is not an ordinary occasion when leave is asked to proceed to the third reading. This is this situation. On Monday morning the Treasurer moved that the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016 be referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters to report on Wednesday of next week at 9 am. This bill in this form has never been through that committee. Speaker after speaker on the government side has relied on findings from JSCEM to reach their conclusions. Speaker after speaker has said that the deliberations of this committee matter for the conclusions of this House. The Treasurer did the right thing when he referred the bill to that committee to report on Wednesday next week at 9 am.
What the government is wanting to do now is say that only members of the Senate get to deal with the findings of a joint committee before they reach their final vote. What is the point in having a joint committee if the attitude of the members of the government is that the deliberations of this House do not matter? What is the point of having this House vote on who will be members of a joint committee if the approach of the government is going to be that you simply ignore the findings of the committee? Worse than ignoring those findings, we have a situation where they are saying we should vote before the committee has even reached its conclusions. Standing order 148 is there for a very clear reason. It says:
… except that a bill referred to a standing or select committee under standing order 143(b) shall not be considered in detail until the committee has reported.
The intention of this motion right now is to render the committee system of this parliament irrelevant on an issue of electoral reform, on an issue that goes—