Senate debates

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Bills

Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill 2016; In Committee

7:47 pm

Photo of Jacinta CollinsJacinta Collins (Victoria, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Cabinet Secretary) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you, Chair. I asked for some explanation as to why we could not be provided with the material around the legislative change challenges that were referred to in the minutes of the executive strategy meeting. I asked for an explanation for why on earth the AEC would be taking on an action item to identify areas of JSCEM response that they should not be consulted on. This is just bizarre. I do not know if the minister has had an opportunity to be briefed on why such strange material is in here.

The other question I asked was for more adequate information around funding issues confronting the AEC. I alerted the minister of the media commentary that arose out of the limited material he provided in the return to order and the concerns about cuts to the AEC being deferred. I asked for some accountability around what funds would have actually been allocated to these specific proposed measures. This is really limiting. The responses that we are getting and the heckling that is starting to occur is really going to slow down this process because if you are not answering and if you think that bullying and badgering is the way to move things along, it is not going to work.

I would add to that that before we get any amendments, adequate information around a range of issues is required—more information than just that one liner in your first reading speech about 'we will make available more resources'. I will get to further questions—and I have already pre-empted this earlier—about what actual modelling did occur. I have already raised Senator Rhiannon's question which we have had no answer to, which was her concerns about what policy considerations went into issues around penalties. So there is an example of a policy rationale issue that has still has not been addressed.

On the policy rationale: I think I highlighted the process of osmosis that seemed to occur in the committee's report over them being happy that government seems to be satisfied with the issues that had previously concerned JSCEM over the use of logos. They were issues of copyright and other matters, as I recall.

You know, I can revisit my questions twice if I have to, but, since you are bringing in your coalition colleagues and saying, 'Where are your questions; where are your questions?' I thought it was timely for me to go back and go through the questions that have already been put before you and have not been responded to. They have not been addressed. So far all we have had was that very brief component—probably for about five minutes—where you strayed away from your key lines about Labor luminaries and actually went through some of the measures in this bill. But you have not adequately responded to one of the general questions that have been asked at this stage. Instead, you have retreated into the sort of behaviour you said that you do not undertake. Seriously, Minister, it is time now for you to actually answer questions that have been put.

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