Wednesday, 27 June 2018
National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017, Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2017; First Reading
In concluding this debate on my motion, I remind senators of the point made by Senator Wong in her contribution. Had the message conveying these bills from the House of Representatives been received by the Senate prior to the Senate adjournment being moved at 7.20 last night, this motion of exemption would not have been necessary. So all of the debate and the touch of histrionics we've heard is because of 14 hours—the time between 7.20 last night and 9.30 this morning. That's the only point about time that is of relevance to why this motion is necessary. Of course, I doubt that those 14 hours are the fundamental reason as to why the Greens or others are opposing this. They are opposing this motion because they want to take a stance on other matters rather than on the substance of the motion.
The substance of the motion will allow proper debate of this legislation in the Senate. The Senate will go through its usual debate, as we have and as we will. Second reading debates will occur, and I see that amendments are being circulated. All of those considerations will no doubt take place over the coming hours. This debate has simply eaten into the time today that would otherwise have been available to get into that debate. I'm not going to delay the Senate any further, other than to highlight that the government has taken the action of bringing this legislation forward, as the reasons of urgency state, in response to the unprecedented threat of espionage and foreign interference. That's why we introduced the legislation, it's why we supported the full and proper examination through the PJCIS and it is why we now ask the Senate to consider this bill, as passed and amended by the House of Representatives.