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Three proud years for the Coalition in the Senate.



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Mon, 30th June 2008

THREE PROUD YEARS FOR THE COALITION IN THE SENATE Senator the Hon Nick Minchin Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Shadow Minister for Defence

Today marks the last day of three years of the Coalition Senate majority, and Liberal and National Senators can be proud of their record of stewardship of the Senate, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Nick Minchin, said today.

The Coalition passed many important reforms through the Senate from 2005 to 2008, while continuing to support a strong role for the Senate committee system.

“Our critics seek to reduce the debate about the past three years in the Senate down to one bill - Workchoices,” Senator Minchin said.

“But reform of IR laws over the entire period of the Howard Government created jobs, reduced unemployment and increased real wages.

“In the Senate, our record over the past three years must be viewed as whole, with a number of important reforms that may well not have been passed without a Coalition majority.

“Indeed the importance of the Coalition’s majority in the Senate was demonstrated right at the beginning in mid-2005. The Coalition Government announced in the 2005-06 Budget a $22 billion tax cut but the Beazley-led Opposition decided to block the tax cut in the Senate in June 2005.

“After the Senate had changed in August 2005, the very first Bill passed by the new Senate was those tax cuts. And the second bill passed was the abolition of the superannuation surcharge - another tax cut which Labor had blocked in the Senate previously.

“Over three years, the Coalition passed many important reforms in the Senate opposed by Labor - the abolition of superannuation earnings taxes, the sale of Telstra, media reform, welfare to work, the Northern Territory intervention and VSU.

“Another myth perpetrated by our critics is that the Coalition nobbled the Senate committee system. The facts do not bear out this criticism. The attached table shows that the Coalition voluntarily referred a record number of bills to Senate committees in 2006. If we’d been the ‘Senate bullies’ we’d been supposed to be, why didn’t the number of referrals decrease, rather than increase?

“In addition, we are criticised for limiting debate in the Senate, but again the statistics tell a different story with Labor holding the record for ‘ramming’ bills through the Senate at nearly 2:1 against the Coalition.

“In 2007, despite a majority, the Coalition did not seek to limit debate on any Bill in the Senate.

“In the history of the Senate, only 30 Bills have had debates longer than 20 hours with 15 of these lengthy debates occurring under the Howard Government. Even with a majority we supported lengthy and detailed debate in the Senate. For instance, in 2007, there was more than 27 hours of Senate debate on the Northern Territory Emergency Response.

“The Coalition’s long term respect for the institution of the Senate will continue after 1 July. Never let it be forgotten that it is the Labor Party which for most of its life advocated the abolition of the Senate. This would be consistent with their abolition of the Queensland Upper House, and the South Australian Labor Party’s current policy of abolishing the SA Upper House.

“Just as we did when last in Opposition, the Coalition will play a constructive role in the Senate. We will negotiate with the Government on the passage of any worthwhile policy initiatives. We will also work constructively with the Greens and Independents on committee, procedural and policy issues.

“Our approach stands in stark contrast to Labor which was an obstructionist Opposition, seeking to block many reforms such as the GST and sale of Telstra, even though the Coalition had gone to elections advocating those policies.

“Coalition Senators have every reason to be proud of the past three years of the Senate majority. As the composition of the Senate changes, Coalition Senators will continue to uphold the role and function of the Senate.

Page 1 of 2 Three proud years for the coalition in the Senate . Liberal Party of Australia

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“The Labor Government has already proven that it views the Senate with contempt and Coalition Senators will not idly stand by as Labor seeks to undermine the Senate’s review mechanisms,” Senator Minchin concluded.

Page 2 of 2 Three proud years for the coalition in the Senate . Liberal Party of Australia

22/07/2008 http://www.liberal.org.au/info/news/detail/20080630_Threeproudyearsforthecoalitioni...