Wednesday, 25 March 2015
Suspension of Standing Orders
Pursuant to contingent notice standing in the name of the Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Abetz, I move:
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent me moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter, namely a motion to give precedence to government business notice of motion No. 5.
The Leader of the Government in the Senate and I commenced this week in discussions with representatives of all groupings in this place. We met with the Australian Labor Party. We met the Australian Greens and we met with each member of the crossbench or a representative of their office.
In those discussions, it rapidly became clear that there were some people who were very willing to talk about how this week may play out, particularly in the light of Mr Malcolm Fraser's passing and the obvious effect that that had in relation to the Monday sitting.
We discussed a range of options in relation to this sitting week and, as I say, it became clear that there was a greater willingness amongst some senators—in this case, particularly those senators who are crossbenchers—to discuss these sorts of matters. It also became clear that there wasn't such a willingness on the part of the Australian Labor Party and the Greens for those discussions. We had some good discussions and, as a result of those, we were able to enter into agreement for arrangements which flow through the course of this week.
We, subsequently, continued those discussions with those individual senators who were keen to work on a cooperative basis. We continued those discussions in relation to bringing the first sitting day of the budget week forward: having a sitting on the Monday—indeed, that was a proposition which one or two of the crossbenchers put forward.
I know that there is a proposition in this place, which has been circulated in the chamber by the Australian Labor Party, to have that sitting Monday of that budget week take place according to a different format to that which is contained within my motion.
We were very pleased that there was the proposition from members of the crossbench, which I think was broadly supported, to have a Monday sitting. The way that the Monday sitting is laid out here is that it will be, essentially, an opportunity to transact a bit of additional government business but, most importantly of all, there is a question time there for that day as is appropriate
I make clear to all colleagues that there has never been a suggestion that we have a sitting on the Monday without question time. Question time is there within that motion.
That is the proposition which the government has before the chamber and which I hope receives the support of the chamber. If the opposition senators are wondering why there hasn't been an ability to reach an agreement with them on this front, it is probably partly a function of the earlier disposition this week, which was manifest.