Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
'Obstructive' Senate claim false: 95% of legislation passes.

Download PDFDownload PDF

Senator Andrew Bartlett Leader of the Australian Democrats

4th March 2003 MEDIA RELEASE 03/117

‘Obstructive’ Senate claim false - 95% of legislation passes

The Australian Democrats have rejected Government claims that Parties in the Senate are ‘opposing for the sake of opposing’.

Today, Senator Campbell, Manager of Government Business in the Senate, is reported as saying: “What we want is for the Australian Labor Party and the Democrats to stop being negative all the time, to stop opposing, for the sake of opposing, they don't have any alternative policy ideas.”

The Leader of the Australian Democrats, Senator Andrew Bartlett said in response, “The facts show a very different picture. The Australian Democrats have constructively used the Senate process to ensure that the best possible legislative outcomes have been achieved.”

The Democrats have pursued policy initiatives regarding health funding and industrial relations through the amendment of legislation.

Ninety-five per cent of Bills brought to the Senate have been passed in both houses and moved into legislation. The Australian Democrats moved 228 amendments in 2002 of which 37 passed into legislation (with 18 pending).

“In the past 12 months, 162 Bills have been passed by the Senate,” Senator Bartlett said.

“The so-called ‘Double Dissolution triggers’ are not a sign of a recalcitrant Senate but are the right and proper functions of the Senate. The Senate is a house of review. It has the important job of reviewing legislation.

“The Senate is the only chamber where legislation is productively debated, often clause by clause, where expert and community input into that legislation is invited by the Senate’s committee system, and where it is possible to make the Government of the day accountable.

“The House of Representatives is just a rubber stamp for the Prime Minister,” said Senator Bartlett.

“The Australian Democrats will continue to strongly defend the Senate as exemplifying the separation of powers, as an independent house of review, and as a house elected by proportional representation and so better representing the voting intentions of all Australians,” Senator Bartlett concluded.

To arrange interview with Senator Bartlett contact 0419 867 649

Following is a breakdown of the Senate’s record of passing legislation and the numbers of amendments moved and passed.







A m e n

d m e

n t s

Co a litio



n ment

ALP Opposition

Democrats Mur



r a di



r a li a n Gr




Figure 1 Amendments in the Senate



The Senate has historically passed much more legislation than it has blocked.

The Senates of the previous four parliaments have passed between 97.6% and 99% of all Bills that came before it. See figure 2 below.

Figure 2 Historical record of legislation passed by the Senate of previous parliaments










of Bills

Bills negatived 2 7 2 1 4

Bills passed by the Senate 602 496 427 582

May 90 - Dec 92 May 93 - Dec 95 May 96 - July 98 Nov 98 - Sept 01