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Government in disarray over Senate legislative agenda.

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Media Release


Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate

Labor’s Parliamentary Secretary for Education





The Senate legislative agenda has been chopped and changed more times than a Victorian Railways timetable, manager of Opposition Business in the Senate, Senator Kim Carr said today.


“Yesterday the Opposition was asked to prepare today for Appropriation Bills, and was told that if they weren’t through by today, public servants would not be paid next week. The Opposition gave an undertaking that we would facilitate passage of the Appropriation Bills by close of business today.


“Then Minister Reith came personally into the Senate Chamber last night and asked Government advisers that the Electoral Amendment Bill be shelved to prioritise the Stevedoring Levy Bills. The Opposition complied. These were passed by lunchtime today.


“Now the Government is prioritising the Television Digitalisation Bill ahead of these urgent Appropriations”, possibly because Senator Alston has applied pressure to distort the Government’s priority. The Appropriation Bills are now scheduled for Monday,” Senator Carr said.


“What the Senate is faced with is a dogs breakfast, courtesy of the Government.”


However the Government cannot complain that the Senate has been tardy or obstructive.


* Since the election the Government has received almost 304 hours in additional Government Business time, the equivalent of an extra 20 sifting weeks, but still the Governmen t can’t manage its own program.

* The Senate has passed 393 bills so far— 84 in 1998, which compares with 85 in the whole of 1996.

* This week a total of 22 Bills have been passed.


Senator Carr urged the Government to get its act together.


“The Manager o f Government Business, Senator Campbell and the Acting Leader of the Government, Senator Alston, should be aware that we have a week left, and that the Government needs to debate its ill-conceived Telstra Privatisation Bill, otherwise the matter may be left hanging until August.” Senator Carr advised.


For further comment: Senator Carr  0419 563 922

June 26 1998