Wednesday, 18 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
although I do acknowledge and recognise that I have had warriors on my side, such as Senator Faulkner, and I am pleased to see Senator Ronaldson joining in. Hopefully he means what he says and actually does support wholesale reform. But that is with regard to the entire architecture. What we are dealing with here are the specific pillars that will support the political donations structure whilst that broader review goes on—the broader review through COAG and the broader review through JSCEM. I think that the way in which this reference has been framed is deceitful, because it attempts to conceal the real motive, which is to delay reform that, if enacted, would clean up and improve our political donations regime.
So I want to indicate that I and the Democrats are strongly opposed to referring this bill, at No. 8 on the Notice Paperthe Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Political Donations and Other Measures) Bill 2008to JSCEM until 30 June 2009. We would support a short reference within the Senate if that was necessary. We would even support, although we would regret, a reference through to August. But a reference through to June 2009 is just a disgraceful and deceitful reference, in my view, which conceals the real motive—and that motive is that this reform is absolutely, fundamentally, thoroughly and completely resisted by the coalition. It would be far better to put the bill to the vote and have it defeated on the floor. That would be far more honest than this process of reference.
I hope, with those remarks, that you will gather that I feel there is a long-term issue with the way in which tax bills are presented at the end of year which needs, I think, to be addressed through Senate procedures. I hope, Minister, that you are taking that on board and will carry it through to the Senate Standing Committee on Procedure. It is an issue. We have the budget and then we have just these two weeks to deal with the tax bills. We do need more time to refer. Secondly, I do hope that these same-sex superannuation reforms are dealt with far more expeditiously, and thirdly I wish strength to the arm of the minister in getting his political donations reforms through.