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Tuesday, 26 June 2012
Page: 8081

Mr KEENAN (Stirling) (20:31): I move the opposition amendment circulated in my name:

(1)   Schedule 1, item 2, page 5 (after line 15), at the end of Division 3B, add:

32F Sunset provision

      This Division ceases to have effect on 1 January 2013.

We support the intent of this bill, as has been made clear by coalition speakers who have come into this chamber at very short notice to voice their support for the chaplaincy program—a program that of course is very dear to the hearts of members on this side of the House. It was a program that we designed to make a difference, and it clearly has made a difference. I commend all the people who have spoken in support of that program, because we all know from our own electorates how important that program is.

But this bill goes way beyond that particular chaplaincy program. It goes to the function of executive power and the way that we fund programs, and that is why it is vitally important that, when we legislate around these matters, every parliamentarian has an interest in making sure that we get them right. It is very difficult for the opposition to know that we have got it right when we were given the bill at nine o'clock this morning—and that was not even the final version of the bill. We only saw the final version of the bill when it was tabled in the House at five o'clock.

We have concerns about the way the government has gone about achieving what we consider to be a laudable aim, and I would have thought it would have been much better if we had had more time to consider this, although of course I do appreciate the urgency that is attached to it. Given that we do understand there is urgency attached to it and we do need to provide some certainty, we were happy to have this bill passed. But we do believe that it is sensible to have a sunset clause within it so that the parliament can more fully consider these issues and make sure that we have got this right—that we have got the legislative underpinnings for these programs 100 per cent correct—particularly when the shadow Attorney-General has looked, in the very brief time that he has had, at this legislation and raised some serious concerns about the way that the government has gone about achieving its aims.

I do not really see why it is so difficult to allow the parliament to have some time to get this right. Perhaps the government could try and just do things properly for once—try and get away from their well-deserved reputation for complete and utter incompetence. We do need to get this right, and I would urge all members of the parliament who care about getting the legislative frameworks right to deeply consider what we are moving within this bill. It does make sense to have a sunset clause on it as that will allow the parliament to fully consider these issues. I would urge members to consider how they cast their vote on this amendment because we believe that it will allow the parliament to do exactly that.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): The question is that the amendment be agreed to.