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Friday, 17 December 1993
Page: 5043


Senator CAMPBELL (9.06 p.m.) —There are a number of important points that need to be discussed at this stage of the debate on the minister's motion. The first is that the government, the Democrats and the Greens go around this country trying to tell people that the opposition in the Senate is being obstructionist. They know that that is not the case. They tried to have people believe that we held the budget up when in fact the reality was that the government got its budget in faster time this year than it ever has before. We know that next year it will get its budget even quicker because the Democrats and the Greens have already signed off on it. It is amazing that they have not signed off for the 1996 budget as well.

  Earlier last week and the week before, we debated the industrial relations legislation. The government, the Greens and the Democrats again went around saying that we filibustered and that we took a long time, but, again, it was the government that had a stupid, shoddy piece of legislation that came into this chamber. It has now brought in more than 200 amendments. The government cannot blame the opposition if it brings in shoddy, badly-drafted legislation which requires government amendments when it gets into the Senate.

  Now we have the Native Title Bill. We were promised back in July that we would have it in August. Then the Prime Minister (Mr Keating) promised to have it in September, then October and finally we got it just before Christmas. The minister needs to inform this chamber and the people of Australia why we need this legislation before Christmas day. Is it because Santa Claus is going to bring it and drop it down everyone's chimney? Do we have to have it passed so that everyone can get a copy of it in their Christmas stocking? What is the relevance of Christmas day? What is the importance of getting it finished now?

  We are back here on 1 February. We know that this is a piece of legislation that is fraught with problems. That is demonstrated by the fact that we have before us in excess of 200 amendments. The attendants are coming around and we are receiving another amendment as I speak.

  This legislation is a disgrace and the process is a disgrace. Because people will read this debate in the future, I seek leave to incorporate, not all of the running sheet because it is a bit of a mess, the first three pages of the running sheet we are using so that people can understand the shoddiness and the way the government is running this program. We were presented with this scribble at 4 o'clock this afternoon and I want to show the people of Australia how disorganised the government is. I know from previous incorporations I have made that it is technically possible for Hansard to incorporate this and I seek to do so, so that it stands as a monument to how disorganised the government's program is and what a hopeless, ad hoc piece of legislation this is and why, of course, this legislation does not need to be passed before Christmas.

  This legislation could of course be dealt with far more effectively if it went to a Senate select committee, was properly discussed through sensible procedures and then dealt with properly in February when we can all come back and have a proper community debate about it and deal with it not on a Saturday—the first Saturday this Senate has sat for 34 years, and possibly the first Sunday in history.

  It is absolutely crazy for senators to be here on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. None of us can make proper decisions under those circumstances. None of us would expect any other Australian citizen to work the hours this chamber works—the hours the clerks, the transport officers, the Hansard reporters, the people in the library have to work. That is the case for people all throughout this building. Probably for each one of us in this chamber there are two or three outside. We are going to ruin their weekend, their last weekend before Christmas, because, basically, this government won the election in March that it did not expect to win. It has been cobbling together pieces of legislation ever since and this Senate always has to fix up the mess. We should not have to fix up the mess. We should deal with legislation in a sensible way.

  Leave granted.

  The running sheet read as follows

  [RUNNING SHEET OMITTED FROM DATABASE - SEE HARD COPY PAGES 5045-47]