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Howard's secret alias : Mr Sneaky.

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SENATOR JOE LUDWIG Shadow Minister for Justice and Customs Manager of Opposition Business in the Senate Labor Senator for Queensland

3 November 2005


The Prime Minister John Howard is up to his mean and tricky antics again - this time by using the cloak of an extraordinary Senate recall to mask a stripping of Senate Estimates time.

The Parliamentary calendar for 2006 was published today and one thing is missing - the Estimates “spill-over”.

The “spill-over” is a spare day allocated at the end of each Senate Estimates period for the purpose of continuing investigations if the allotted time is insufficient.

These “spill-over” days are useful where extraordinary circumstances come to light. Most recently, the spill over day was used to great effect in providing extra time for holding Senator Vanstone and the Immigration Department to account in February (in relation to the detention of Cornelia Rau) and in May (in relation to the detention of Vivian Solon).

Let’s refresh ourselves with another Prime Ministerial (i.e. “non-core”) promise:

“I’m not going to allow this unexpected majority to go to my head. I want to make that clear, I’m not going to do that. Because that would be disrespectful to the public, and it would disrespect the robust nature of the Senate, even with a

Coalition majority.” (SMH 25/06/05)

Er, right on John! That must be why you are cutting estimates and only allowed a one-day inquiry for the five bills to sell Telstra.

It seems the lure of absolute power has transformed “Honest” John into Mr Sneaky.

It used to be that whenever the light of scrutiny was thrown upon this Government, Ministers would scuttle into the dark corners to escape responsibility.

Now the Howard Ministry seems to live permanently in the world of shadow - and it wants to keep Australians in the dark, too.

For further information contact: Simon Every 0417 308 144.