Thursday, 18 March 2021
Selection of Bills Committee; Report
The report read as follows—
1. The committee met in private session on Wednesday, 17 March 2021 at 7.10pm.
2. The committee recommends that—
(a) contingent upon introduction in the House of Representatives, the provisions of the Hazardous Waste (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Amendment Bill 2021 be referred immediately to the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 5 May 2021 (see appendix 1 for a statement of reasons for referral); and
(b) the Interactive Gambling Amendment (Prohibition on Credit Card Use) Bill 2020 be referred immediately to the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 30 July 2021 (see appendix 2 for a statement of reasons for referral).
3. The committee recommends that the following bills not be referred to committees:
4. The committee deferred consideration of the following bills to its next meeting:
18 March 2021
That the report be adopted.
Question agreed to.
Thank you, Mr President, and I thank the chamber for their indulgence in allowing me to speak to this today. What I particularly want to do is to acknowledge the importance of a couple of the bills that we are referring to today—
Opposition senators interjecting—
This is a particularly important component of the agenda. I want to acknowledge that there are a number of bills that are being referred today that are particularly important going forward. As I said, I thank the indulgence of the chamber to be able to do this.
There are a number of bills that we've chosen not to refer on—
Senator Urquhart interjecting—
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to be at the meeting last night, Senator Urquhart. I would have liked particularly to have been there last night to actually have the conversation and to discuss some of these bills, but particularly the importance of being able to have the process by which we refer these bills to committee. We often come into this place and we have conversations around the fact that the committee process in the Senate—
I will take the interjection, or the attempt to pull me up on the manner in which I'm addressing this particular section, from Senator Patrick.
Senator Gallagher interjecting—
Yes, you can if you like. I know Senator Patrick takes the referral of bills to committees very seriously, because I know that he understands that the committee process is what makes this chamber operate the way that it does. It is a very, very important component of it. I probably would point out to the chamber that everybody in this place should take our committee processes very, very seriously to ensure that we do scrutinise our bills in the appropriate processes, in a manner in which we can make sure that we do our job in this chamber.
I'll tell you a great anecdote, Senator Patrick. When I first came into this place, I remember somebody who was very well regarded in this place, Senator Amanda Vanstone. I'm sure even if you weren't in the chamber when Amanda Vanstone held her role in this place, you would have heard of her, because she was a great South Australian senator. Senator Vanstone said to me on the day that I was chosen to be the person to come into the Senate, 'The one thing you must always remember is that committee work is not optional.' She said, 'The most important role of this chamber, of this Senate, is to make sure that committees are run appropriately,' and that's why I thought I would take the opportunity this morning to stand up and, as part of the Selection of Bills Committee reporting, refer to the importance of the fact that the referrals to committees, the scrutiny of bills by committees, is tremendously important. And I certainly thank the chamber for the opportunity to do that.
There are a number of bills where scrutiny through the legislative standing committees provides so much additional information. Senator Patrick, I know you are one of the people in this chamber who believes, more than anything else, in the importance of the scrutiny of bills through the committee process. You are one of those people who always, when you refer bills to a committee, turns up to the committee hearings, and I commend you for the fact that you are always one who takes your role as a member of committees very seriously. You take the scrutiny of bills very seriously—
Senator Siewert interjecting—
as does Senator Siewert. I will commend Senator Siewert for the number of times—she is always prepared to be the person who will stand up and defend the committee process for the additional scrutiny it affords bills, to make sure that we have got the most information, that we allow the consultation and the community engagement into the legislation that we put through this place.
This place truly is the place of review, and the best way that we can review legislation is by enabling a broader scrutiny, by being able to take submissions, to consult with the public, to have hearings and to hear firsthand from people who are impacted by the legislation that we're putting through this place about how that legislation is likely to impact them so that we can make sure that decisions that are made in this place in relation to bills are as informed as they possibly can be. I just would like to take this opportunity to commend the committee process, and thank you for the indulgence to speak on this matter.
I, too, rise to take this unusual opportunity of being able to talk about the Senate Standing Committee for Selection of Bills. I understand the Selection of Bills Committee report was in unanimous agreement. Usually it does—
Senator Siewert interjecting—
Senator Siewert, the point I'd like to make is to draw attention to what is going on here. What is going on here, by using this part of the program, is that the government are in a complete mess and they have lost all control of the business of this chamber—all control of it. I have no doubt that what is happening out there, outside of this chamber, is that a number of people are busily trying to write an amendment or a guillotine or an hours motion—or all three—to deal with the rest of the business of this week. After spending three days on one bill, we're up against time now and the government haven't even got the ability to draft an hours motion or a guillotine motion in time to have it dealt with by this chamber. That's what is happening now.
Poor Senator Ruston, and I feel for her, has been sent in to waste time in this chamber, to waste time when we have important bills that need to be dealt with today—the industrial relations bill, which we don't support; JobSeeker. There are motions. There is a whole program that the government are disrupting through their own inability to deliver anything. I can't imagine a situation where this would have occurred under previous leadership, I honestly can't. There is absolutely no way that then Minister Cormann wouldn't have been sitting in that chair with everything zipped up. What we're faced with today is this ridiculous waste of time because they haven't got their house in order—not just one house, they haven't got any house in order! The amendments aren't in order, the guillotine that's coming our way is not in order and the hours motion is not in order.
The lives of all those people relying on JobSeeker hang in the balance while those opposite mess around trying to get their ideological war against workers through this parliament. There are millions of people relying on JobSeeker, an extension or a permanent increase to that payment, and their incomes hang in the air because of the inability of this team to get anything through this chamber. It's an outrageous waste of this chamber's time.
Do you have any idea—I don't think you do. I don't think you have any idea what's going on and how you would defend the fact that your leadership team can't line matters up. This program has been known forever—this is the program: at 11.45 we move to formal business. You've known all week that you need to get this legislation dealt with. You know all that. There are rumours of a guillotine, rumours of an hours motion and rumours of a bill that's about to be gutted, but we don't know if that's actually going to be the case, because we haven't seen any of the amendments that are going to be moved. And here we are, wasting time on a debate about a Selection of Bills Committee report because you have nothing else—no other way of dealing with the business of this chamber. It's an absolute mess that this is what the government of Australia is presenting to this chamber.
It's an absolute mess. You can't get your program through, you can't get your legislation through, you can't draft an amendment, you can't draft a guillotine and you can't draft an hours motion. You can't do anything! You know what I'm saying is true; that's why it's so difficult for you.
Senator Rennick interjecting—
You know what I'm saying is true because that's what's happening on the floor of this chamber, and we should call it out. We should call out that you cannot organise yourselves to deal with the legislation before this chamber. You're incapable of dealing with it, and then we're going to be given something with no time to consider it and you'll crunch it through.
We can see the busy shuffling of papers going on around here, so I think we're about to find out how long we're going to be here and what bills we're going to be dealing with. Maybe we'll find out exactly what your industrial relations bill looks like once you've finished your negotiations. We'll see whether what we hear is true: that schedules are being ripped out, including the one on wage theft. We'll see if that's actually true. Gutting your own bill—how embarrassing for all of you! How embarrassing! It's absolutely embarrassing, I'm never seen anything like it— (Time expired)
I have a motion before the chair, that the question be now put. I know Senator Hanson is seeking the call, but I have to put that procedural motion. The question is that the motion on the Selection of Bills Committee report be now put.
Question agreed to.
The question now is that the Selection of Bills Committee report be adopted.
Question agreed to.