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Wednesday, 18 March 2009
Page: 1869


Senator FIELDING (Leader of the Family First Party) (10:47 AM) —Here we are again at the eleventh hour on a couple of other issues. Are there a couple of dollars involved with the Australian Business Investment Partnership Bill 2009? No, it exposes taxpayers to the tune of $26 billion. The government expects to just ram this legislation through. We had this problem with the previous government. We had a brief yesterday from the Treasury and we are looking through it. This is $26 billion of exposure for taxpayers. It needs to go through a better process than just having it for a few days before the vote is brought on. It is just silly. It is a ridiculous discussion to be having really. I do not know how long we have wasted—maybe you could tell us how long we have wasted—this morning debating just this cut-off order.

We have some serious issues before the Senate. We have the industrial relations laws for this land that will be with us for a long time. We need to get those right. We have in front of this chamber as well the issue of binge drinking and creating a culture of responsible drinking. We should be dedicating time to those issues. But the Rudd government is diverting the attention of the Australian Senate. This is ridiculous. This needs to go through a proper inquiry. We need to have a look at it. There is some urgency to address the issue, but we need to get it right with the exposure of $26 billion of taxpayers’ money.

It has taken the Rudd government time to get serious about the amendment we have to the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Political Donations and Other Measures) Bill 2009. They can bag it all they like. I am happy for them to suggest amendments. We had discussions yesterday with Senator Faulkner. We still have time, but we are wasting the Senate’s time debating this issue now when we should be getting back to the important industrial relations laws that will affect all working families and the issue of the alcohol toll on families across Australia. These are the two things that should be taking up the time of the Senate at the moment.

The Australian Business Investment Partnership Bill 2009 can be put through a Senate inquiry to give us some time and, more importantly, to make sure that we scrutinise the $26 billion exposure for Australians. Family First will not be supporting both of these measures in the cut-off motion for the reasons I have just outlined.