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Wednesday, 23 October 2002
Page: 5664


Senator LUDWIG (Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (9:55 AM) —In relation to the motion, the opposition take the government's position at face value unless something puts them on notice that that may not be the case. When the government advises that these are urgent bills which are required to be exempt from the cut-off, we examine the issues behind the exemptions from the cut-off, which, as I recollect, the Democrats were behind in this case.



Senator LUDWIG —I am advised that it was the Greens.


Senator Brown —It was Christabelle Chamarette.


Senator LUDWIG —That is right; it was. I am sure the Democrats would have supported you at the time, Senator Brown; so we can say this was collectively between Labor, the Greens and the Democrats.

Nevertheless, the position Labor adopts in respect of this is that, the government having declared these bills as urgent, if there is something that puts us on notice that that may not be the case or there may be requirements to deal with the bills or undue pressure is put on the timetable, that will be an issue. We would then examine the bills individually to see whether they have been dealt with by committees, and we have been advised that some of them have been. We would look at the complexity and nature of the bills to determine whether there is an issue that needs to be addressed before the end of the year and we would make a judgment on those matters and reach a view about whether they can be exempt from the cut-off. That does not necessarily mean that they will be dealt with by the end of the year; it means that they are in the mix to be considered.

As we move towards the end of the year, the Senate knows that there will be time pressures on what legislation can and will be dealt with. As we all know, we will look at the priority legislation the government wants to move and we will examine it in due course. It is a little early to say what that priority list will be, but I think it would be remiss of us not to ensure that these bills, except for the Inspector-General of Taxation Bill 2002, are included in that mix for consideration. As Senator Brown knows, some of those bills are non-controversial and can be passed before the end of the year. Some of them will generate further debate, and I suspect some will need further scrutiny, and that can be done during the sitting period before the end of the year. There is sufficient time. We are going into a two-week break, which will allow the various people who have an interest in those bills to consider them before we come back in a fortnight's time.

Perhaps I can take this opportunity to explain why the Inspector-General of Taxation Bill 2002 should be taken off the list. The reason is more an argument over when that exemption should be requested. I foreshadow that later this morning we will be amending a motion relating to the Selection of Bills Committee to send that bill to a committee. We believe that it requires scrutiny. As I understand it, it will then report back some time this year. At that point, it may be appropriate to consider again whether it should be exempt from the cut-off, but that is a matter for the government to determine in due course and we will consider that issue, should it be put before us. However, at this point in time, it is our view that the Inspector-General of Taxation Bill 2002 should not be provided with exemption from the cut-off. It is not an issue that is urgent for consideration during the break.