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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 9934

Senator McKIM (Tasmania) (21:28): The Greens will be supporting the amendment. Are we dealing with both of Senator Leyonhjelm's amendments or just the sunset clause?

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN ( Senator Edwards ): We are just dealing with amendment (1).

Senator McKIM: We will be supporting this amendment from Senator Leyonhjelm for the following reasons. This basically changes the default position. At the moment, it would need a further decision of the parliament for these laws or these provisions to cease. A sunset clause, effectively, switches the default provision so that these provisions would cease in 10 years. It is worth pointing out that parliaments can always and often do change their minds. If the sunset clause were agreed to by both houses of this parliament, there would be nothing preventing this parliament from coming along and extending these laws later should there be arguments that convince a majority of members in both chambers of this parliament that that should be the case. So there is nothing to lose here for Labor and the government.

In relation to the joint committee, it is a closed shop made up only of coalition and Labor members, which I think is a real shame, and robs that committee of alternative views that might assist it in reporting adequately on legislation such as this. But we are supporting Senator Leyonhjelm here because we believe that laws like this ought to be reviewed regularly by the parliament. That is the effect of a sunset clause. If the government or anyone else believes that there is a worthy argument to extend these laws past 10 years, they can come back in at the appropriate time and move to either strike out the sunset clause or insert a further extension of the sunset clause. That is prudent legislative practice in the view of the Greens, and that is why we will be supporting this amendment.

I do want to make it clear, though—and it seems, given the comments, that this amendment will not pass—that, even if it had passed, it still would not have satisfied the Greens in terms of convincing us to vote for this legislation. It merely would have taken bad legislation and made it slightly less bad.

The CHAIRMAN: The question is that amendment (1) on sheet 7815 moved by Senator Leyonhjelm be agreed to.