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Wednesday, 27 June 2018
Page: 4069

Senator McALLISTER (New South WalesDeputy Opposition Whip in the Senate) (10:10): That is an extraordinarily hypocritical contribution from Senator Patrick, I am afraid, because we ought to be very, very clear about the procedural motions that were supported by Centre Alliance just last week. Senator Patrick has indicated today that the reason he gave support to this was that he was confused by the Labor Party's position. I will tell you this: the best way to resolve confusion, if you are feeling confused in the chamber at any time, is actually to allow a debate to proceed; to allow the committee stage to proceed; to allow questions to be asked; and to allow the many parties in this chamber to provide a perspective. And that is what the committee stage allows. Unfortunately, that is not what was allowed. That is not what was allowed when the debate on corporate tax took place last week. Instead, what happened was that just 1½ hours was allowed for an extraordinarily complex process—just 1½ hours to debate a package worth $143 billion. That is an extraordinary abrogation of the Senate's responsibilities, and you ought to be ashamed for having supported it.

What then happened, even more remarkably, was that we went through, line by line, pages and pages of amendments, voting without discussion on the numbers—just colour-by-number Senate practice. That was entirely enabled by your decision to support the government's procedural motion to shut down debate on personal income tax. And, finally, the cruellest cut perhaps of all is that you voted, but when a message came back from the House of Representatives on personal income tax that we would consider without amendment or debate—abrogated the Senate's responsibility to scrutinise legislation and abrogated our opportunity to insist on the amendments we had recommended to the House of Representatives. So do not come in here and talk to us about process. The Labor Party today will facilitate debate on these bills: debate that follows a public process that commenced in December and is concluding now in June. We are completely comfortable with that, and you ought to be ashamed of the position you have taken in recent weeks.