Senate debates

Monday, 14 July 2014


Suspension of Standing Orders

10:11 am

Photo of Claire MooreClaire Moore (Queensland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Women) Share this | Hansard source

Marx Brothers, yes—absolutely. But nonetheless I would have thought that we could go with both. But last week the process in this place was predetermined to go through a series of votes when the government did not have the numbers. We were actually playing with the Senate to see if, in fact, deals had been concluded or not, to the extent that there was no effective running of the Senate.

The government has come in today with a proposal to list today similar bills to those on the agenda paper at this time last Monday. If you have a look at the bills which the government has brought forward to look at now very many of them were exactly what we could have been debating at this time last week. Instead, the government came in with a motion that they wanted to put the carbon bills there and go into debate because they thought they had the numbers for a deal. That did not occur. What we had was the whole week being taken over by, 'Did the numbers come or not? Would we have a debate by a certain time or not?' I think we also heard that sometimes things that were happening outside this chamber were much more important than things that were happening inside this chamber.

So we came back today and we have a list of bills before us that the government asked us to do. We actually will be supporting that. We believe that the process the government needs is to have the right to put into the chamber what they expect should be the process for the day. I acknowledge that the Leader of Government Business did talk with a range of people to prepare us that this was their intent. That is how these things should work. If there is a procedure that they want to put forward there should be consultation beforehand with an explanation as to what is going to happen. When that occurs people can make up their minds about whether that is the appropriate way to operate, and I think that would be having a formal process about how best we can operate in this Senate.—to know what is being debated and move forward into effective debate on the process.

I remember sitting on the other side of this chamber, and week after week the then Leader of Opposition Business in this place would lecture us about what was appropriate and how appallingly managed the place was by the government of the day. At no time did we see the kind of process that we saw in this place last week. So, Mr President, yes, we have had consideration of the legislation. I believe, if procedures had been followed last Monday, some of these bills would already have been passed after appropriate debate. But that did not occur. We had a week without much actual conclusion of business in this place; nonetheless, we are here today. The government has moved a motion where a series of bills will be able to move forward and be debated. We believe that the chamber should always operate in a cooperative fashion. We believe there should be a process drawn up that includes all people in this process so that we actually know what is going on. As the Manager of Government Business in the Senate said: we may not always agree on the outcome, but we should be clear about the procedures so that we will not have the seeming chaos that reigned in this place last week.

We are ready to go through with the debate on the legislation as has been put forward by the government, but we want to make it clear that we need to be advised about the rationale of procedure that is coming in here. We do not want to wait around while there is considerable filibustering from the other side to see whether particular deals have been done or not before we can move towards a vote. What we want to see is effective debate so that we do our job in this chamber, which is to review legislation. We want to ensure that we in this place know what is going on and, I think more importantly, to a large extent that the people in the community know what the priorities are for the business of the day. And while we wait with bated breath to see what other deals are being done, this will at least ensure that we get on with the business of the day and know what procedures are going to be followed, what the process for timing will be and that we get our job done in this joint.


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