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Wednesday, 19 March 2008
Page: 1300

Senator BARTLETT (3:39 PM) —I support the motion that the report be adopted. I simply feel compelled to put on the record the contrasts. The Selection of Bills Committee is recommending four bills to be referred to various committees for consideration, one of which is the government’s legislation which makes some small modifications to the Northern Territory emergency intervention. I support that committee reference. I simply feel compelled to put on the record the contrast between last year and now. Last year a massive set of four bills, putting in place the intervention in the Northern Territory, was forced through this chamber in the space of a week, with a one-day hearing in Canberra begrudgingly provided to the committee, with no opportunity to go to the Territory to hear from people directly affected and with the authors of the Little children are sacred report prevented from even giving evidence to the committee.

I contrast that with now, when some small modifications to those large pieces of legislation regarding a couple of matters are being sent to a committee and there will be two months between when the legislation was first introduced and when it is debated in this chamber—a proposal that the coalition suggested be referred and which I support. The same coalition that denied this Senate the opportunity to properly examine four pieces of legislation is now requesting two months to look at minor modifications to that legislation and, in its proposal for referral, suggested—to quote from the appendix to this report—‘hearings in all states’. As far as I know, it affects only the Northern Territory. It might have minor implications for Cape York in Queensland—I am not sure—but the contrast between how the previous government operated and what it forced on this Senate in terms of consideration of important legislation and what it is now seeking to do is stark, to put it politely. I think the hypocrisy needs to be highlighted in this chamber if for no other reason than to try to reduce the chances of it happening again.

Question agreed to.