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Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Page: 3894


Senator SMITH (Western Australia) (13:41): As I was flying across to Canberra on the weekend from Western Australia, leaving early in the morning to get here late in the afternoon, I could not help but reflect upon what an important and historic week this will be in our national parliament, as we draw to a close the 43rd Parliament. They were not thoughts that were filled with lots of joy, actually, and I have often wondered, in the 13 months in which I have been in the Senate, how younger Australians might look at this 43rd Parliament and what lessons they might take out of it for the future.

I think this bill, like many other bills that we have seen this week, is testimony to the ill-conceived, shoddy, rushed way this government has approached our parliamentary democracy over the last three years. I think it is worth reflecting, before I come to the substance of the Australia Council bills—the Australia Council Bill 2013 and the Australia Council (Consequential and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2013—what it is that is happening in our Senate chamber this week.

As Australians go to the polls on 14 September, they might like to think carefully about not just who they might vote for in the House of Representatives but where they might put their votes in the Senate, because the last three years have seen a very shambolic and rushed treatment of our parliamentary democracy—not just by the Australian Labor Party, but by them in cooperation, hand in glove, with the Australian Greens. So I think that when Australian electors go to vote on 14 September they should exercise tremendous caution not to bring back to their parliament the minor parties and Independents who seek, by their example, to wreck our parliamentary democracy.

I will share with people who might be listening to the Senate across the country today and those people in the chamber: it is worth reflecting that in the three years that the coalition had control of the Senate, just 32 bills were guillotined—a mere 32 bills. That is in very stark contrast to the 216 bills this government will have guillotined in its last three years. Anyone in Australia who cherishes our parliamentary democracy, our bicameralism and the federal structure on which it is built would find those statistics quite remarkable. This week alone, we will see 55 bills guillotined—49 of those will have been debated for less than one hour. Of the 49 bills, 30 will be debated for less than 30 minutes.

Senator Thistlethwaite interjecting

Senator SMITH: Is that an interjection from the senator from New South Wales? When New South Wales people go to vote on 14 September, they might like to ask themselves whether Senator Thistlethwaite and his colleagues are doing the best by their—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator McKenzie ): The time allotted for consideration of these bills has expired. The question is that these bills be now read a second time.

Question agreed to.

Bills read a second time.

The PRESIDENT: In respect of the Australia Council Bill 2013, the question is that amendments (1) to (8) on sheet 7427 circulated by the opposition be agreed to:

(1) Clause 9, page 6 (line 24) to page 7 (line 19), omit subsection (1), substitute:

(1) The Council has the following functions:

   (a) to promote excellence in the arts;

   (b) to provide, and encourage the provision of, opportunities for persons to practise the arts;

   (c) to promote the appreciation, understanding and enjoyment of the arts;

   (d) to promote the general application of the arts in the community;

   (e) to foster the expression of a national identity by means of the arts;

   (f) to uphold and promote the right of persons to freedom in the practice of the arts;

   (g) to promote the knowledge and appreciation of Australian arts by persons in other countries;

   (h) to promote incentives for, and recognition of, achievement in the practice of the arts;

   (i) to encourage the support of the arts by the States, local governing bodies and other persons and organizations; and

   (j) to do anything incidental or conducive to the performance of any of the foregoing functions.

(2) Clause 11, page 8 (line 29), after paragraph (a), insert:

   (aa) the policies of State and Territory Governments in relation to the arts; and

(3) Clause 12, page 9 after line 2, after paragraph (a), insert:

   (aa) in relation to the formation and terms of reference of a Committee; or

(4) Clause 31, page 18 (line 5), at the end of subsection (1), add ", or as otherwise directed by the Minister"

(5) Clause 31, page 18 (line 10), omit "at least one person who has relevant experience in the arts", substitute "more than one person who has relevant experience in the specific subject matter relating to that committee."

(6) Clause 31, page 18 (line 15), omit "The Board", substitute "The Board, unless otherwise directed by the Minister"

(7) Clause 31, page 18 (line 21), omit "The Board", substitute "The Board or the Minister".

(8) Clause 31, page 18 (after line 25), at the end of the clause, add:

(6) A direction by the Minister will in all cases prevail over a direction by the Board.