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Thursday, 12 August 2004
Page: 26483


Senator NETTLE (12:27 PM) —by leave—We seem to be having urgency in government priorities made on the run across the chamber, without any discussion with people on the crossbench. There appeared to be very little discussion with the opposition, who are unclear as to what the position is. All of a sudden we have the Manager of Government Business in the Senate coming into the chamber and moving a motion to say that these bills are urgent. All of a sudden the government have reprioritised the lengthy list we had before and said, `These are our bills, these bills are urgent and we want the Senate to immediately acknowledge that these are the urgent government priorities.' We have not even had put forward a proposal, an explanation, a reason or a rationale. There has been no discussion beforehand. The Manager of Government Business in the Senate has simply come in and said to the Senate, without any notification: `Join with me and say these are the priority urgent bills for the government.'

It is not acceptable. This is not the first time today that it has happened. We have had the government coming in and saying: `All of a sudden we have changed our minds. These bills which were not urgent yesterday are automatically urgent.' Now they have changed it again and they are going to add on another few bills. They say, `These are the bills we are going to say are urgent now.' It is the most obscure way to run business. They are ramming stuff through with no discussion beforehand. They say: `This bill is urgent. Now this bill is urgent. Now these three bills are urgent. We are going to change our minds.' There is no discussion beforehand; they just come in and, bang, say that these bills are urgent. They cut off the discussion that is occurring right now. It seems to be the most absurd way to run a process. We are already sitting far longer because the government and the opposition could not reach agreement on their fiddling around the edges of the free trade agreement. It is not what the Greens think is an acceptable way to be running government business here in the Senate. (Quorum formed)

Question put:

That the motion (Senator Ian Campbell's) be agreed to.