Senate debates

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Income Support for Students) Bill 2009

Consideration of House of Representatives Message

5:44 pm

Photo of Kim CarrKim Carr (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science and Research) Share this | Hansard source

I will briefly speak to the motion moved by Senator Stephens. The committee should not insist on the Senate amendments to which the House has disagreed because the measures that were passed by the chamber previously are effectively unworkable. Since the chamber last discussed these questions, discussions have taken place between the Greens and Senator Xenophon. I indicate at this point that amendments that I circulated last night will be moved in the committee stage should this proposition be carried and that there will be an opportunity to canvass the detail of those amendments, which set down the agreements that have been met. As a consequence, the Senate will have the opportunity to ensure that 150,000 Australian students will have support next year.

Senator Mason, the question of whether or not students will have support is a question that the chamber can deal with now. You have indicated that the opposition is prepared to give precedence to the legislation that we are now discussing. The opportunity to deal with this question and to ensure that students do have support next year is now. Senator Fielding in particular has the opportunity here, now, to consider his position. I put this to you bluntly, Senator Mason: should we end up with a tied vote and therefore our amendments not be passed, then we will have nothing. Given the urgency of business, the prospects of the Senate reconsidering this matter, I would suggest to you, are small. If the strategy of the coalition is to voice their hostility to the government measures and to vote these amendments down in the hope that there will be a further opportunity to reconsider their position upon the second bounce back of this legislation, then I might advise you that that opportunity may not arise, simply because of the way in which this chamber’s business is likely to be played out with regard to the climate change legislation. So, if Senator Fielding or other senators feel that this is not the time to reconsider their position and that they will have another chance to do that, might I suggest to them that they may well be wrong.


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