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

Thank you. I accept that I should do so. This is, as I said, a very important debate. It is important that the budget is delivered. It is important that the government of the day is allowed to deliver on its election commitments. The opposition have to answer the question: what gives them the right to deny the government the ability to deliver on its election promises? They were defeated at the last election for two reasons: (1) because the public lost faith in them because they failed to deliver on the promises they made to the electorate and (2) because of their abuse of their Senate majority. Here we are, within six months of the election, and they are seeking to carry out those two things that hurt them most at the last election.

All the government is asking for is the capacity to pass its budget. We accept the reference of matters of interest to Senate committees, but we ask the Senate to allow them to be returned in time for the bills to be debated and voted on by the end of this last sitting fortnight. It is the same process that has always applied to the budget. The opposition have had more than enough time to consider the bills. What they have not been able to do is find a position. They are so internally divided that they cannot work out what to do. They think that, by hiding behind Senate process, somehow it will all be resolved for them.

The bottom line is that it is economic vandalism. It is action that reeks of arrogance and reeks of the despair, disunity and weakness that the opposition are showing. It is important that the government gets its budget bills through. We urge the Senate to allow the government to pass its budget bills and not to hide behind process. Proper consideration can be given to bills, but let’s not hide behind process. Let’s debate the bills and vote on them. Let’s have some political courage from the opposition. We ask them to support the budget bills and ensure that this government is allowed to deliver on its election commitments and pass its budget.

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