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Wednesday, 11 December 2002
Page: 7674

Senator BROWN (9:32 AM) —I raise an objection. This is another classic case of a major piece of legislation, in this case the Family and Community Services Legislation Amendment (Special Benefit Activity Test) Bill 2002, which ought to be a matter of communication and advice-getting between members of the Senate and community groups and individuals—and there are many of them affected by this piece of legislation—before it is considered by the Senate. The aim of the cut-off here is to have it dealt with in the next 48 hours.

That is a complete abrogation of proper form. It is no way to treat legislation like this. I say to the Minister for Family and Community Services: get your legislation in here in time for it to be adequately dealt with by this house of review. We are seeing a welter of pieces of legislation—and it is growing every year—being exempted from the cut-off by the government and I hope the opposition does not support this one. The whole reason for standing order No. 111 is to ensure that we do not get avalanched by legislation at the last minute so that the Senate is prevented from having proper time to adequately deal with that legislation and get advice from the community. That is what must happen here if this cut-off is applied and this legislation is put on the agenda for the next day of sitting, which is tomorrow, after which, as you know, Mr Deputy President, we rise until February.

This should be dealt with in the postsummer sittings. It is totally wrong for this piece of legislation to be exempted from the cut-off. I would like an oral explanation to the Senate as to why this piece of legislation should be exempted from the cut-off. There is nothing to justify this in the written explanation we have had from the minister. Let us hear a case in point as to why the government should be shoving this on to the Senate, effectively to be dealt with without proper consultation with the community and the community groups who are involved in it.

Senator BROWN —We had an interjection opposite. I did not quite hear it, but as you know, Mr Deputy President, that would be disorderly from the government.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT —Order! I do not need you to rule on those things, Senator Brown. Just address your remarks to the chair and ignore disorderly comments from this side.

Senator BROWN —I will do that, but it is disorderly for there to be interjections, Mr Deputy President. What is not disorderly and what is required in good form in the Senate is for the minister to get up and explain why this piece of legislation should be shoved through here in such an unseemly, unwarranted and improper way.