Friday, 23 September 2022
Days and Hours of Meeting
I want to speak briefly to the amendment. The government won't be supporting Senator Pocock's amendment, and we have reached agreement with senators around the days of sitting next week. It is because the passing of Her Majesty the Queen required us to move a sitting week. It is in the school holidays. We have tried to be as reasonable as we can in balancing people's travel, previous arrangements and the need to care for others during that time to manage the program in accordance with those responsibilities.
I understand that we've had a period of mourning, but we've also lost an entire day of Senate business. I propose that we make that up. There are some incredibly important pieces of legislation before us, including on territory rights, which I fear may continue to drag out for the rest of the year. I think it's really important that senators have an opportunity to speak to it and that we then bring it to a vote. This is an incredibly important matter to many people living in the territories.
There is also the broader note of how much the Senate will actually consider legislation this year. By my calculation, it's 29 days. If you compare that to New Zealand, where they are sitting for 90 days this year, or Canada, where they are sitting for 120 days, I don't feel like the extra day is a huge imposition, given some of the really important legislation that's before us.
I rise to speak on the amendment and the substantial motion before us. I understand the points that Senator Pocock is making. However, at this time, members in this place—and my Greens colleagues in particular—have made arrangements on the basis of what had previously been agreed, so we will stick to that. However, I indicate that we do think we need to find time to deal with the Restoring Territory Rights Bill 2022 in particular and to not allow this to slide off into the never-never. That may suit some in this place, but it certainly doesn't suit all. We will be prepared to speak collectively across this chamber to find time to deal with that.
I also indicate that there is a lot on our agenda for the next three days as now nominated by the government, and I would ask us to be as efficient as possible in dealing with the long list of things that has been circulated by the government. It may mean that we need to extend hours on some of those days in order to get the work done.
I acknowledge the government's consultation with the opposition in relation to the scheduling of the additional sitting days as replacement days for those that were cancelled following the death of Her Majesty. Given that consultation and engagement the government undertook, the opposition will not be supporting the amendment, and respects the government's scheduling of the sitting days. It is for the government to then ensure that those sitting days and scheduling make the most effective use of the legislative program and that the program can work within the sitting days as they have proposed.