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Tuesday, 3 December 2013
Page: 619


Senator SIEWERT (Western AustraliaAustralian Greens Whip) (12:31): I move the amendment circulated in my name:

That the days of meeting of the Senate for 2014 be amended as follows:

(1) Omit:

"Monday, 7 July to Thursday, 10 July Monday, 14 July to Thursday, 17 July."

(2) Omit all words and dates from "Spring sittings" and substitute:

"Spring sittings:

Tuesday, 19 August to Thursday, 21 August

Monday, 25 August to Thursday, 28 August

Monday, 8 September to Thursday, 11 September

Monday, 15 September to Thursday, 18 September

Spring sittings (2):

Monday, 13 October to Thursday, 16 October

Monday, 3 November to Thursday, 6 November

Monday, 10 November to Thursday, 13 November

Monday, 24 November to Thursday, 27 November

Monday, 1 December to Thursday, 4 December."

The Greens are seeking to amend the sitting days the government has determined for next year. We want to amend the sitting schedule for very significant reasons. The government has selected sitting days later in the year that conflict significantly with school holidays in all of the states of Australia. This government professes to be family orientated and yet sets sitting days that require parliamentarians to be out of their states when their children are on school holidays. With some careful thought they could have avoided those school holidays. The Greens have circulated amendments that in fact do avoid those school holidays so that we can have more sitting days in the second half of next year that do avoid—

Senator Ian Macdonald: Mr Deputy President, on a point of order: I am very keen to follow what Senator Siewert is saying but I do not have a copy of the circulated amendment in front of me, so I do not know what she is talking about.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: We will facilitate a copy of the amendment for you. Senator Macdonald now has a copy. Senator Siewert, you may continue.

Senator SIEWERT: Thank you. As senators are getting copies of this amendment, they can see that we have put some thought into how we could arrange the sitting days to facilitate the necessary debate in this chamber that would also allow senators and members to be in their states during the school holidays so that they can spend valuable time with their children.

We as senators, and I am sure those in the other place, are away from home for a great deal of time, so to be able to be in your homes when your children are on holidays is very important. So we have looked at those dates and found dates that enable us to be here but also at home. They also remove the two weeks that have been put in the July school holidays. We know why the government wants those days; so they can get rid of the carbon legislation. The legislation that is working, that is reviewing, that is able to deliver renewable energy in this country and is reducing carbon dioxide emissions. These amendments enable proper consideration of those bills.

I urge the opposition to support these amendments, given that they not only facilitate more family friendly arrangements but also will not facilitate the government's agenda of trying to get rid of the carbon package that is in fact working so significantly. I am sure the opposition know that the longer we ensure that these packages are working, the harder it is to repeal them and the more the community will understand these packages and appreciate that they are delivering the change that we know we need to make to ensure that we are addressing climate change in this country.

The industry itself is also pointing out that the longer the packages are in place, the harder it is to repeal them. So I urge the opposition to support our amendment in order to ensure that we are as family friendly as everybody in this place says that we are. The Abbott government say they are family friendly but bring in a calendar that specifically for the first time takes out all the school holidays—not just a couple but all of them in the latter half of next year. It means that we are all away from our homes when our children are on school holidays.

The opposition say they want to make it harder for the government to repeal the legislation. Join with us to make sure that we have proper scrutiny of the government's proposals and that we are able to spend time at home with our families when our children are on school holidays.