Senate debates

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws — Superannuation) Bill 2008; Tax Laws Amendment (Medicare Levy Surcharge Thresholds) Bill 2008; National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical and Other Benefits — Cost Recovery) Bill 2008; Tax Laws Amendment (Luxury Car Tax) Bill 2008; a New Tax System (Luxury Car Tax Imposition — General) Amendment Bill 2008; a New Tax System (Luxury Car Tax Imposition — Customs) Amendment Bill 2008; a New Tax System (Luxury Car Tax Imposition — Excise) Amendment Bill 2008; Excise Legislation Amendment (Condensate) Bill 2008; Excise Tariff Amendment (Condensate) Bill 2008; National Fuelwatch (Empowering Consumers) Bill 2008; National Fuelwatch (Empowering Consumers) (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2008; Tax Laws Amendment (2008 Measures No. 3) Bill 2008; Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Political Donations and Other Measures) Bill 2008

Referral to Committees

4:08 pm

Photo of Chris EvansChris Evans (WA, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Government in the Senate) Share this | Hansard source

Because they are very important economically. This is not for some important broad social or economic policy like the Telstra bills, which I recall the Liberal opposition, when in government, rushed through with a one-day inquiry and with two-days notice. So, to be lectured by Senator Ellison on Senate process and proper behaviour is obscene, given their performance when in government.

We in the Labor government support the right of the Senate to examine policy issues contained in legislation. We support the role of the committees and we will continue to do that. But the debate today is about the government’s budget; it is about normal process and whether the recently defeated opposition are going to allow the government to deliver its budget. The weight is now on the opposition. They actually have to say what they stand for, if they stand for anything at all. They cannot hide behind process. They can have these bills referred and brought back next week if there are serious issues they want to examine. But these are not issues of wide application or broad public policy. They are very specific measures that, if you like, are much more narrow than some of the measures they have agreed to consider and bring back next week.

This is all about political vandalism and their inability to cope with the responsibilities of opposition. The Liberal Party are in a mess all over the country. They may make themselves relevant at some time down the track, but we do not have to worry. But they are relevant today because they are trying to destroy the budget and undermine the economic strategy of the government of this country.

It is an absolute irony of this chamber that the coalition come into this chamber and say: ‘Oh, no, we need to follow all these processes that we absolutely refused to apply when in government. We are going to apply them to the nth degree and drag them out for as long as we can to deny the government revenue and the capacity to deliver on its budget.’ But they will not do this on measures that they are opposed to; it is on measures they have not quite made up their minds about yet. They have not had enough time to work out whether they support or oppose the budget so they are going to drag it out until September, denying $220 million of revenue to the Australian government at the expense of taxpayers, while they decide whether or not they have got an opinion.

They have got a chance to have an opinion and do their jobs by voting in the Senate. They have got a chance to consider the legislation that is before them, which they have known about for six weeks.


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