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Dems' motion penalises Minister: question time elongated until government tables welfare paper.

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Media Release

Senator Andrew Bartlett 

Senator for Queensland 

Australian Democrats spokesperson for Social Security



Dems’ motion penalises Minister 

Question Time elongated until Government tables welfare paper

In what is believed to be a n unprecedented move, the Senate has imposed a sanction on a Minister for refusing to comply with a return to order.

In response to Senator Newman refusing to obey an order of the Senate, a Democrat motion was passed today to lengthen the duration of question time until 3 Democrat and 8 Opposition questions (not including supplementary questions) have been asked. Question time usually comprises approximately 2 Democrat and 6 or 7 Opposition questions.

The longer question time will be in place until the end of the year or until the Minister for Family and Community Services complies with the Senate request to table the government discussion paper on welfare reform.

The Democrats will make use of the extra question time to pursue Senator Newman’s plans for welfare reform.

"The Democrats are determined to enforce accountable Government and reinstate respect for the Senate’s orders," said Senator Andrew Bartlett, the Democrats’ welfare spokesperson.

"We are determined to reveal the Government’s intentions in regard to sole parent payments, disability support pensions and other areas of intended welfare reform."

The discussion paper was to be released at the Minister’s Press Club speech (Sept 29) in the context of major reform of Australia’s overall welfare system. Minister Newman was censured by the Senate for refusing an order to table the discussion paper. It is uncommon for a Minister to refuse a Senate order to produce documents.

Senator Bartlett described the Minister’s refusal to table the paper as, "playing peek-a-boo with welfare policy" and "contemptuous of the Senate".

"It is speculated that the paper proposes increasing the range of compulsory activities and other mutual obligations for social security recipients. This will inevitably increase the number of people who are cut off benefits, and that is of concern to the Democrats," concluded Senator Bartlett.



jy  1999-10-21  10:51