Thursday, 10 December 2020
Order of Business
Thank you very much. Here we have, on the last day of sitting, a motion to extend hours to deal with a number of bills which are likely to be subject to a gag at the end of the day. I have no problems with extending hours. I don't mind working the long hours, but there's a process problem here, and that is that we will get to the end of the day, we will have rolling divisions and, I point out, we'll have rolling divisions in circumstances where people don't get the chance to have a say about a bill and, perhaps more importantly, about amendments. The crossbench often play a critical role in amendments. I watch One Nation and Senator Lambie come in here, listen to what is being said and often make up their minds on the basis of speeches that are made in support of or against particular amendments. So what happens with these rolling divisions is that we actually end up getting a perverse outcome where people haven't had the opportunity to properly consider the amendments that are before the chair.
I understand that we had COVID, but this year we've seen parliament rarely sitting. Flippant decisions were made to cancel the sitting of parliament, and that's led us to a situation where there is a backlog of bills. But I also point out that we're seeing bills come on and off in a willy-nilly fashion. It's quite disorganised, and it is symptomatic of a government that hasn't got its act together.