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Monday, 23 November 2009
Page: 8611


Senator FIELDING (Leader of the Family First Party) (8:18 PM) —Amendments (1) and (2) are also in the name of Family First. They have been moved for a very important reason. I am not so sure the government could actually argue very hard against these amendments in their totality because, when you think about it, if the Senate does disallow something, surely it should go back to where it was previously. That is a simple proposition. Quite clearly, the Senate here is trying to fix something that probably should have been fixed some time ago. I cannot understand why the government would argue contrary to the proposition that, if you disallow an item, it should revert to where it was previously, because that is where the status quo was and that is where it should be until there is a majority in the Senate to change it. I will stick to the topic—I will not go elsewhere, to the specific items—but I cannot understand why the government would not support these amendments. They may say, ‘Oh, it’s because of cataracts’—or something—but it is just common sense. This is where the Senate works best—when we find a problem, rather than sweeping it under the carpet and turning a blind eye to it, it is a matter of addressing it and making sure that the Senate fixes something that is a problem. If this Senate’s majority decision is to disallow an item then, quite frankly, it should revert to where it was. I just cannot understand how the government could argue against this common-sense amendment. If the minister on duty could actually respond to the question: what harm would this do to the Australian people? When the Senate disallows a change brought in by any government, whether it is this Labor government or a coalition government in the future, when the Senate thinks that an item should be disallowed, and the majority is there, it should revert to where it was so that there is not the chaos of going back to zero. This is the government’s doing. They have had plenty of time to think this thing through, and plenty of time to address it. Let’s stick to the arguments. This is a common-sense amendment that the Rudd government should fully support, because it makes sense.