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Wednesday, 15 February 2017
Page: 993


Senator GALLAGHER (Australian Capital TerritoryManager of Opposition Business in the Senate) (15:07): I thank the Leader of the Government in the Senate for the comments he has just made. I move an amendment that I hope is being circulated shortly:

Omit all words after "That", substitute:

(1) The Parliamentary Entitlements Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 and the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority Bill 2017 and Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2017 have precedence over all government business until determined.

(2) If by 7.20 pm today the Parliamentary Entitlements Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 and the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority Bill 2017 and Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2017 have not been finally considered:

(a) the hours of meeting shall be 9.30 am to not later than midnight;

(b) the routine of business from not later than 7.20 pm shall be government business only;

(c) the Senate shall adjourn without debate after it has finally considered the bills or at midnight, whichever is the earlier; and

(d) if by 2 pm on Thursday, 16 February 2017 the bills have still not been finally considered:

(i) the hours of meeting shall be 9.30 am to adjournment,

(ii) the routine of business from not later than 8 pm shall be government business only,

(iii) divisions may take place after 4.30 pm, and

(iv) the Senate shall adjourn without debate after it has finally considered the bills listed above, or a motion for the adjournment is moved by a minister, whichever is the earlier.

The PRESIDENT: The amendment has not been circulated. Is it something you can just articulate briefly, Senator Gallagher?

Senator GALLAGHER: Thank you. I was hopeful that it had been circulated. The amendment that I seek to move to the motion is to give precedence to the Parliamentary Entitlements Legislation Amendment Bill 2017, the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority Bill 2017 and the Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2017 over all other government business until determined. There are also some changes to paragraph (2) of Senator Brandis's motion, inserting those three bills and giving them precedence above other government business.

The reason we are doing this is that it allows these bills to be dealt with this week as well. We acknowledge the government's priorities, but the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, has made it very clear that he would like to see reform in this area. The community would like to see reform in relation to parliamentary expenses. It has taken some time to get to this point. We have seen a number of scandals involving members of the government that have required this legislation to be brought forward. It has been debated in the House, and it is only right that we deal with this legislation in this sitting week. We want to make sure that these bills are dealt with. There is the chance that, if the motion is supported without this amendment, that will not be the case and these bills will then be held over until the March sitting.

This amendment would still allow for other government business to be dealt with within the extended hours that the government seek, but it would prioritise these bills, and I think the community expects this. We have seen a lot of commentary around the need to reform the entitlements of members of parliament, and this amendment—hopefully with the support of other senators in this place—will ensure that that debate happens, and then we can proceed with other government business over the next two days.