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Thursday, 26 June 2014
Page: 4017

Senator McEWEN (South AustraliaOpposition Whip in the Senate) (12:02): I want to put on the record the situation with regard to the Selection of Bills Committee, as I have had to do before. People should know that the Selection of Bills Committee makes recommendations to the Senate about referrals of bills to committees and reporting dates for those bills. That report of the Selection of Bills Committee, whether or not it is adopted and whether or not it is amended, is always subject to the will of the Senate. That is the process we are going through here at the moment. The Manager of Government Business in the Senate, Senator Fifield, well knows that quite often things change between the deliberations of the Selection of Bills Committee, which usually occurs on a Wednesday night, and the presentation of the report for the consideration of the Senate the following day. Often the recommendations in the report do need to be amended to accommodate what has happened overnight. What happened in Australia overnight was that we had some significant pronouncements from members of the party that will be occupying some of the crossbench after 1 July about matters relating to the very bills that are being considered by the Selection of Bills Committee. The Labor Party took account, in its deliberations, of those public announcements that were made last night.

There is nothing untoward going on in this process at all. It is quite proper for the Selection of Bills Committee, which is not a deliberative committee, to make recommendations to the Senate and for the Senate to amend or revise those recommendations. The indication by the Manager of Government Business that all is sweetness and light at the Selection of Bills Committee is not factually correct. There are often robust discussions about the appropriate time frame for referral of bills, and those time frames are contingent on many other factors apart from what the government wants. I wanted to put that on the record, and I look forward to continuing in the proper place, which is the Senate, the debate about the final outcome of this Selection of Bills Committee issue.