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Thursday, 21 June 2018
Page: 3578

Senator URQUHART (TasmaniaOpposition Whip in the Senate) (12:10): I rise today to speak on the report of the scrutiny of bills and also to outline why the opposition has decided to support the referral of the bills. Specifically, I'm referring to the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Cashless Debit Card Trial Expansion) Bill 2018, the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Maintaining Income Thresholds) Bill 2018 and the Space Activities Amendment (Launches and Returns) Bill 2018. This house that we are in here is a house of review—that's what this house does. The government has sought to gag debate on another bill today. We've seen that here today. We saw it yesterday, and we've seen it in the even more extreme today.

I believe that these bills should be open to scrutiny by not only the Senate but the community. The community should have access through the process of these bills being referred to committees—people out in the community who are stakeholders who have more information about some of these things than we do here—because it's part of a learning process for us to pick up information from stakeholders who deal with issues on a day-to-day basis and to hear from people who are affected by bills. That's why the opposition has decided to support the referral of these bills here today.

We've seen that this government—the Turnbull government, those on the other side of this chamber—cannot be trusted to allow scrutiny of bills. This is the problem we've got. We've seen it all morning where the government, over on that side, have continually gagged debate. We've seen how they've corralled the independent senators and those others up over on that other side and pulled them into line to vote with them, without us or any senators in this place having an opportunity, if they wished to, to make a contribution to the debate. That's not how this chamber has run in the past, and that's not how it should be run into the future. Quite frankly, the government should be absolutely ashamed of the way that they have conducted themselves over the last day or so.

I might also say that the Independents and the minor parties who have not stood up to vote against the legislation—to get up and have a say—should be ashamed as well. They should be absolutely ashamed of themselves. The people of South Australia will be very disappointed with Centre Alliance. They will be absolutely disappointed that Centre Alliance did not get the chance to put their positions up. Now Centre Alliance have rolled over completely and voted with this government.

Pauline Hanson's One Nation party have completely rolled over and capitulated in this chamber to the government. I don't know what sort of a deal they've got out of it, but the people that they purport to stand up for in Queensland, I hope, will be standing up, rallying around and arguing that what they've done is absolutely outrageous. I hope they will send that very strong message to the Pauline Hanson's One Nation party. They go out onto the streets of Queensland and say, 'We care about the workers, we care about individuals and we care about low-paid workers,' and then they come in here, do a dirty deal with the government, roll over and agree to tax cuts that will disadvantage low-paid workers. That's what they've just voted for: to absolutely disadvantage low-paid workers. I say: shame on them. Shame on them all! It's outrageous that we have workers in this country who earn significantly less than the people in here but it's us in here, and others who are on high incomes, who are actually going to get the advantage of what that lot over there have passed, joined by those from the Centre Alliance party, Pauline Hanson's One Nation party and several independents.

Can I take this opportunity to commend Senator Storer on his position and his stance. Thank heavens he's an Independent and standing on his own. He deserves respect and support, which he should get from the many voters who used to support the Nick Xenophon-Centre Alliance team. (Time expired)