Tuesday, 30 November 2021
Consideration of Legislation
I seek leave to move a motion relating to the consideration of the Australian Federal Integrity Commission Bill 2021, as circulated.
Leave not granted.
Pursuant to contingent notice of motion in my name, 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 a motion relating to the consideration of the Australian Federal Integrity Commission Bill 2021.
Federal ICAC now. Federal ICAC now. There are just so many things that are going on that are undermining public confidence in our system of government—in the way in which this building operates and in the way in which the federal government operates—and we have to address that as a matter of urgency.
We've had sports rorts. We've had car park rorts. We've had jobs for mates. We've had water purchases. We've had blind trusts. All of this goes to an erosion of confidence in our system of government. We note that in the states this doesn't happen. It doesn't happen or it rarely happens because there is a strong watchdog that makes people very, very cautious about doing anything that would give rise to a referral. The problem we've got and the reason I'm seeking to suspend standing orders to deal with this bill is that we have waited patiently, after a promise from the Prime Minister that he would bring legislation to this chamber, to the parliament, to deal with an ICAC—a promise prior to the last election. And the election is closing in. We've seen the sitting calendar for next year. Before the election, we have 10 sitting days; that's it. We can't wait any longer.
Last week, for my pushing for this to be dealt with immediately, Senator Ruston called me 'a procedure wonk', and actually I take some pride in being called a procedure wonk. I do follow procedure. I do understand the standing orders. I do read Odgers, however sad people may feel that is. The fact is that I'm proud of this institution and I'm proud of the way in which it operates. And it doesn't give me pleasure to come in here and ask to interrupt government business time, which was the complaint that was made by Senator Ruston, but I'm doing so in circumstances when the government promised to do this and haven't. They promised to do this in their time in office and haven't, and that ultimately forces people like me, people like Senator Griff and Senator Lambie, and Labor and the Greens, who supported me last week, to try to force a change in thinking and get the Liberal Party to understand how important this is.
Again, they set the agenda; they said that they would bring an integrity commission bill into this parliament, as a promise in the election campaign, and we are running out of time. That's the reason why we need to suspend. That's the reason why we need to get onto the Dr Helen Haines bill—the Australian Federal Integrity Commission Bill—that I've introduced into the Senate. This bill has the endorsement of a number of external and independent experts in integrity. Again, I don't like interrupting government business time, but they promised to give time to this and they haven't.