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Thursday, 25 November 2010
Page: 2195

Senator BRANDIS (11:27 AM) —I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Brandis moving a motion to vary the order for the hours of meeting and routine of business for today and Friday, 26 November 2010

Mr President, the order of business that has just been decided upon by the Senate as a result of the division is now, in effect, the ‘Red’ for the next two days, and the opposition—or, indeed, any senator—may amend the ‘Red’.

The amendments that the opposition proposes are these: in paragraph (3) there be added the words ‘and a 30-minute debate for motions to take note of answers to questions’, after (2) there be added (2A) ‘The Senate shall meet on Saturday, 27 November 2010 and that the hours of meeting shall be 9 am to 3.30 pm’, in (5)(a) the words and expressions ‘11.45 am’ be deleted and the words and expressions ‘3.30 pm’ be inserted in their place, in (5)(b) the words ‘12 noon, on Friday 26 November 2010’ be omitted and in substitution for them there be inserted the words ‘12 noon, on Saturday 27 November 2010’.

The opposition embarks on this course with reluctance, but aware of the gravity of the situation. It is the consequence of the motion that the Senate has lately carried that, were the Senate to dispose of the business as is currently scheduled, then the Senate would not have the opportunity for appropriate scrutiny of this legislation. Before I come to that—

Senator Chris Evans —You’ve just wasted two hours!

Senator BRANDIS —We are entitled, Senator Evans, to move whatever procedural motions are appropriate to protect the right of this Senate to have proper scrutiny of the largest expenditure of public works in Australian history. It is the opposition that is proposing that the Senate meet on Saturday—

Senator Chris Evans —Too late, mate! Too late!

Senator BRANDIS —Watch your politics, Senator Evans, it ill becomes you.

Senator Conroy —One year! One year this bill has been on the Notice Paper. It has been sitting on the table for one year!

The PRESIDENT —Senator Conroy!

Senator BRANDIS —That’s a lie, Senator Conroy. Let me take Senator Conroy’s interjection, Mr President, because last night on the Lateline program Senator Conroy—either through ignorance or malice, I’m not sure—misled the Australian people. He claimed that this bill has been on the Senate Notice Paper for one year, and that claim is false.

Senator Conroy interjecting—

Senator BRANDIS —That claim is false. A bill of the same name as the bill currently before the Senate was on the Senate Notice Paper a year ago.

Senator Conroy —A year ago! One year! One year! We moved this over a year ago, you hypocrite!

Senator BRANDIS —But Senator Conroy, who makes a habit, as viewers of Sky News would be well aware, of not knowing what is in his own legislation, is ignorant—

Senator Conroy —One year, you hypocrite!

The PRESIDENT —Senator Conroy, that needs to be withdrawn.

Senator Conroy —I withdraw.

Senator BRANDIS —Senator Conroy—who, as viewers of Sky News would be aware, makes a habit of being ignorant of the content of his own legislation—is unaware, evidently, that the bill that was on the Notice Paper a year ago, which bears the same name as the bill currently before the chamber, is entirely different. It was a different bill with the same name—not the same bill. Even a person of Senator Conroy’s limited intelligence could understand that the fact that a bill bears the same name as an earlier bill does not make it the same bill. Senator Conroy is evidently entirely unaware of the fact that the claim he made on Lateline last night was false. It seems that it is Lateline, one, Sky News Agenda, one, when it comes to exposing the ignorance of the minister.

That having been said, the opposition is determined to ensure that there is proper scrutiny of this legislation. So we propose that the order of business be amended so that the Senate sits on Saturday and so that all of the time allowed for sitting tomorrow—not just the time until noon—be allowed for deliberation in the Senate on this bill. We know what the government’s game is. The government’s game is to conceal from parliamentary scrutiny this legislation, just as they have concealed from parliamentary scrutiny the business case. (Time expired)