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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 9782

Senator MOORE (Queensland) (10:38): We moved the suspension of standing orders to allow Senator Wong to move her amendment to the process put in place this morning by Senator Fifield about the hours of business for today. In terms of the process, we have had considerable discussions this week. We had a couple of meetings earlier in the week about hours. We waited until Wednesday night to hear from the government around a proposal for today. We had nothing for yesterday. We had a proposal last night from Senator Fifield, quite rightly, putting forward a proposition for the hours of business today. We had a short discussion on the phone last night about which bills would come before the Senate today. We actually had a number of bills listed that were to be included in the proposal. One bill that was not listed in the proposal given to us last night was the Tax Laws Amendment (Combating Multinational Tax Avoidance) Bill.

That bill was not listed on the proposal that we had last evening, but this morning, as we were going through the process of looking at what we would do and were preparing ourselves to respond to Senator Fifield's proposal, what popped up but this extraordinarily important bill. It was to be added to the debate today, which we knew was going to be difficult on the last day of session. What popped up—adding to the bills that we talked about yesterday—but the Tax Laws Amendment (Combating Multinational Tax Avoidance) Bill 2015 as the first order of business.

In relation to the other things that we talked about that we needed to have on the agenda today, I expect that Senator Fifield circulated the same proposal to all of us last night—the government, the opposition, the Greens and the Independents. We were going to look at the agenda for the last sitting day. It is always a difficult time, as you know, Mr Acting Deputy President. You have to look at the time allowed to consider legislation so that the agenda allows for effective debate. I expect that all senators in this place had that information last evening.

We have heard plenty of discussion so far about who was talking to whom and what deals were being made. But bringing on another bill at this time is, I think, an abuse of the process that Senator Fifield spoke so passionately about earlier this morning. He spoke of the responsibilities of running this place effectively and of having fair debate. He said it was a shared responsibility. He said we would all have a role and an opportunity to provide information and argument so there would be a proper process in this place about how the agenda would operate.

I believe that Senator Wong's proposal to remove the Tax Laws Amendment (Combating Multinational Tax Avoidance) Bill 2015 from the agenda returns us to what we expected the process would be today. Removing this bill from the agenda, which is the content of the amendment she has put before us, means that we can consider the bills that we expected to be on the agenda and there is effective time to discuss the legislation. These are important bills, and the citizenship bill is core. We know that many senators feel very strongly about that bill. The Greens actually said in the debate that they needed more time to consider the citizenship bill; they wanted to have more debate. We have been accused—and I am appalled by the suggestion—of being involved in some kind of dirty discussion to have that removed. That is untrue. We wanted effective discussion. We wanted a chance for this chamber, before we rose, to have effective, engaging discussion around this important piece of legislation. That is what we expected to happen today—that the No. 1 order of business was going to be the citizenship bill. We expected that. As we ended debate last night a number of senators said: 'We want to get back to this tomorrow.'

But, no, that dropped off, and we actually had this tax laws amendment bill pop up. We have heard people say how that could have happened. I am not going there, Mr Acting Deputy President. I would not expect that there would be deals like that made, but other senators feel as though that is true. What has happened is that the proposal that was given to us in good faith last night has changed and I think that is incorrect. (Time expired)