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Thursday, 13 November 2008
Page: 47

Senator WONG (Minister for Climate Change and Water) (1:46 PM) —I generally have a lot of regard for Senator Troeth, but really! The first point is that there are a great many private members’ bills moved in this place. As the senator well knows, many of them sit on the Notice Paper and are not brought on for debate and vote. I am sure that, when Senator Troeth was in government, the government did not take a range of the private members’ bills that the Greens moved on a whole range of issues—social issues and environment issues—

Senator Brandis —You always knew this was going to be debated in the chamber.

Senator WONG —Just settle down, Senator Brandis. You can get on your feet—

Senator Brandis —You always knew this was going to be debated in the chamber.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Mark Bishop)—Senator Brandis, Senator Wong has the floor.

Senator WONG —As I said, there are many private members’ bills brought on—for example, one is being debated in general business today. When Senator Troeth was in government, I am sure that not every single private member’s bill moved by a senator was taken to the coalition party room. The point is that on, I think, 11 December it was determined by the Senate that this matter be given precedence.

I again remind senators that the opposition and the Greens have ensured we are unable to finish with the Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws—General Law Reform) Bill 2008 as a result of giving this precedence. That is fair enough and you are entitled to do that, but it has delayed the passage through the Senate of that legislation.

A private member’s bill being brought on for debate and vote is a very different situation, Senator Troeth—and I am sure you would concede that—to a private member’s bill being moved, as many are as a matter of course in this place.

In relation to the other issue, of the Attorney-General not calling you, I am sure he was extremely busy in the period prior to the House—

Senator Brandis —It’s a professional discourtesy. You know that.

Senator WONG —Senator Brandis, sometimes, really! There is a certain amount of pomposity people can deal with and then there is a limit, and to be honest with you—

Senator Brandis —It’s a professional discourtesy. Don’t excuse it.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN —Senator Brandis, will you stop interrupting.

Senator WONG —I would say that I can recall a number of occasions when I was called by officers rather than ministers from the government when I was in opposition, but I am sure the Attorney-General will have regard to Senator Troeth’s remarks.

Question agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Bill reported with amendments; report adopted.