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Thursday, 26 June 2014
Page: 4016


Senator MILNE (TasmaniaLeader of the Australian Greens) (11:53): I move:

Omit "14 July 2014" wherever occurring, substitute "2 October 2014".

The reason I am changing the reporting date is because, on 1 July, we are going to have a number of new senators arriving in this chamber. I do not think it is fair to ask new those senators to vote on and speak on a complex suite of bills which will have such a critical impact on the future of this country without giving them the opportunity to have a reasonable length of time to get across the issues and then make up their minds in a considered way.

It is unprecedented that people would be expected to be sworn into the parliament and then thrown into such a complex debate so early in their career. Every single one of us had the opportunity to come into the Senate and settle in. They will not even be able to employ staff until 1 July, and you are expecting that by 14 July the committee will have reported and they will be ready to deal with these bills which seek to repeal the emissions trading scheme. It is not just one bill but many bills and it is incredibly complex. I think that natural justice demands that people are informed when they are making a decision so critical to the future of the country. It really does not serve democracy well to bring people in here and, before they even make their inaugural speeches—or at the same time they are being asked to make their inaugural speeches—ask them to participate in a debate of such complexity. It is on that basis that I am seeking to change the reporting date on all of the bills relating to our emissions trading scheme and to ask that they report on 2 October. That would provide the time that the new senators need.

This is a debate which, we have learned in the last 24 hours, is moving very quickly. That is why I think it would be a bad mistake to throw people in here. I do not think people have realised the gravity of the decision that is going to be made, because for evermore people are going to be named as having voted one way or another, and future generations are going to care. I just find it extraordinary that we would not give people the ability to get across the detail. That is why I am seeking to have a longer reporting date than is being proposed by the Labor Party. I say to the Labor Party: if you are serious about keeping the emissions trading scheme that we have got, if you are serious about a chance to persuade people, I ask that you consider supporting the longer reporting date of 2 October 2014.