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Thursday, 28 October 2010
Page: 998

Senator BOB BROWN (Leader of the Australian Greens) (10:19 AM) —Mr President, I seek leave to make a short statement.

Leave granted.

Senator BOB BROWN —This is complete nonsense and we all know that. This motion calls on the government to ensure full compensation to farmers and other existing businesses as a result of any impact that the projects that the motion is about would have. It is no good the opposition—the Nationals or the Liberals—saying that they are going to vote down this motion for compensation but they do not mean it; they are in support of compensation. You do not vote against something that a motion makes very clear that this Senate would otherwise be supporting. They are absolutely voting against compensation for the farmers and the other businesses under the terms of this motion, and when they cross the floor to vote for this motion that is exactly what they are doing.

The PRESIDENT —I will make a statement about formal motions at the conclusion of this debate.

Senator Xenophon —Mr President, if I could seek your guidance; given that formality has been denied in relation to Senator Brown to amend this motion, can the Senate seek to suspend standing orders and allow for a vote in relation to that? In other words, can the will of the Senate override that denial of formality?

The PRESIDENT —Senator Xenophon, I thank you for your assistance. I have a question before the chair. I intend to put that question. The other statement that I would like to make, and I will make it now in respect of these formal motions, is that it is becoming far too much the practice that these motions that are meant to be dealt with in the formal sense are being amended and are being subject to statements, and debate is ensuing when this is not the way in which the business of this Senate should be handled for these motions. That is the fundamental problem that we are dealing with with these issues. I would ask all senators to go away and review how they wish this business to be handled, because it makes it very difficult for the chair, no matter who the chair is, when issues of this nature come up and there seems to be no agreement around the chamber as to the handling of the matters. It therefore has seen this issue blow out into a nearly 40-minute debate, mostly on procedure. I do not mind that, but I have rules and guidelines by which I must abide and precedent which has established the way in which these matters should be handled before the Senate over a long period of time. I have abided by the standing orders. I have abided by the precedent that has been set by presidents before me. So I would ask all senators to take that into consideration when we are dealing with matters of formality in the future.

The question before the chair now is that paragraph (b) of the amendment moved by Senator Colbeck for its deletion be agreed to.

Question put:

That the amendment (Senator Colbeck’s) be agreed to.