Thursday, 17 March 2016
Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016; In Committee
Senator Collins has been here long enough, and she has been a cabinet minister herself. I do not talk about what goes and what does not go before cabinet. But let me just again very firmly put on the record that the amendments that the government will be moving during this committee stage of the debate, in relation to below-the-line voting arrangements in the Senate, have gone through all of the appropriate processes of the coalition, and of course they directly respond to the relevant recommendations made by the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters in its report released a few weeks ago. I am not quite sure what point Senator Collins is trying to prove. I am not quite sure what conspiracy theory she is trying to pursue.
I would have thought that the government acted in very good faith. We put our bill out for consideration. It was scrutinised by people across Australia who made submissions to the inquiry. The submissions were obviously there for all to see. I had a number of conversations with some people who made submissions to try to understand some of their points a bit better, and of course in the end the government made a decision to initiate a further amendment, and that is something that I did indeed announce on Wednesday morning—I believe when I was finally allowed the opportunity to speak in what had by then been a six-hour debate on whether or not the Senate should accept the message from the House of Representatives in relation to this bill and whether we should allow this bill to be read a first time. So from memory it was about 10 o'clock on Wednesday morning that I rose to speak, and by then clearly I had all my ducks in a row and I was able to make relevant announcements in this chamber.