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Thursday, 26 November 2015
Page: 9110

Senator FIFIELD (VictoriaManager of Government Business in the Senate, Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Digital Government) (13:13): I thank colleagues for their contributions. The nature of this part of the sitting week, as colleagues will appreciate but as might not be understood more generally in the community, is to deal with items of legislation that no individual senator or group of senators indicate that they have any issues with. Those bills are dealt with at this time of the day in recognition of the fact that they are, as we colloquially refer to them, non-controversial.

The operating premise is that the government, the relevant minister, has taken that legislation through the relevant processes of the government policy committee and the government party room. The operating premise is also that the opposition parties have gone through their own internal processes and that individual senators have had the opportunity to look at the legislation themselves. So that is the way that this particular part of the day operates. It is a mechanism to use well the available government business time in this place so that those bills that are of particular contention can be well ventilated and well debated, and those where there is essentially agreement can be dealt with in a way that is efficient.

Obviously, I take Senator Leyonhjelm's point that there are, on occasion, unintended consequences in legislation that do, from time to time, need to be corrected. Senator Leyonhjelm is doing and serving his role by reminding the government, reminding all senators, that we do have a duty and an obligation to pay close attention to legislation. I think one of the great benefits of the system that we have in this place is the Senate legislation committees, which look at a very large number of pieces of legislation in great detail. I think, if it were not for those Senate legislation committees, more of what Senator Leyonhjelm was referring to would happen.

I could suggest, and our colleagues in the other place might disagree, that perhaps there is closer attention paid, clause by clause, in this place and by the committees of the Senate than might be the case over on the other side of the building. But Senator Leyonhjelm does remind us of what our collective duties and obligations are in this place.

Question agreed to.

Bill read a second time.