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Wednesday, 17 November 2004
Page: 116

Senator NETTLE (4:04 PM) —The other issue that the Minister for the Environment and Heritage may like to address in his response to Senator Brown's questions is that there are 14 bills in this list that are being proposed for exemption from the cut-off—some of them new, some of them old. There has been an indication, again in the media, that there is going to be another stack of bills introduced, presumably tomorrow, and the minister has already given an indication that he is seeking exemption from the cut-off for another series of bills. That takes us to an unknown number of bills, because I do not know how many more bills will be introduced. But if we are looking at another 14—if we are looking at in the order of 30 bills being introduced—is it the government's expectation that the Senate will deal with 30 bills in the next two weeks of sitting? In the next eight days of sitting, is there an expectation that opposition senators and senators representing other parties, particularly where there are few of us, are expected to get our heads around 30 pieces of legislation, and debate and deal with all of those issues?

Can we get some indication from the government about their intentions, the number of pieces of legislation and days intended for us to sit. That is a far more reasonable way for us to be able to engage in consultation about how we are going to cope with this workload. Quite frankly, if we have 30 bills to deal with in the next eight days, there is no way we are going to be able to get our heads around the detail of those 30 pieces of legislation—which we have not seen yet—and be expected to debate them, vote on them, discuss amendments, go through committee stages and put forward proposals. If the minister could give us some indication of the government's intentions for the next two weeks, that would be a much more reasonable way to conduct these discussions.

Debate interrupted.