Wednesday, 20 June 2018
Consideration of Legislation
Shameful lack of consultation and even poor understanding about what it is they're proposing, what the motion is and what procedure should be considered going forward. I believe it highlights that the government wants to rush this through to avoid scrutiny.
Earlier, Senator Wong referred to it as a dummy-spit—in fact I think she might have borrowed my words from sitting behind her at the time. That's our reflection on how Senator Cormann responded to the limited amount of consideration in detail being given to these matters ahead of question time. It seemed that at first the government didn't quite understand what had happened. Then, obviously, once they had realised what had happened they tried to convince some unsuspecting senators that they should relinquish their powers. I can't understand why any senator would do that, especially in a situation where we've had these bills before us for a limited time only. We facilitated the second reading debate last night and we've had only about an hour of committee-stage consideration, and there was no notice ahead of question time that the government was going to attempt to circumvent that.
During question time, the manager was running around talking to crossbench senators, asking, 'How about this?' Don't agree to things under those circumstances. Get some advice. At least consider dealing with these issues about urgency or limitations on considerations after allowing yourself to be properly informed about what is really occurring here. On reading this motion, senators who have been in this place for quite some time at first believed we were going straight into the bill. That is not what I believe is proposed in this motion. It will occur when we get to item 19.
As I've pointed out, the more concerning element in paragraph (c)—and it is critical we make this point at this stage, because the government might again attempt to rob us of any opportunity to amend the next motion—is the issue of our dealing with a response from the House, without amendment or debate. This is outrageous. Had the government consulted us in relation to this motion, these are, of course, the points, after advice from the Clerk, that we would have been able to respond to. But we didn't have the opportunity to even seek advice from the Clerk. You saw a moment ago—consider this, Senators—that the Leader of the Government was in a flurry over understanding the motion that he was putting. He needed to seek advice from the clerks. On the floor we had to pause the consideration of the chamber for him to get advice from the clerk.