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Government urges Senate cooperation.

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The Government today urged the opposition parties in the Senate to cooperate to clear a backlog of work caused by last week's debate on Iraq.

The Manager of Government Business in the Senate, Senator Ian Campbell, said there was a pressing need to get on top of the work program this week, the last sitting before the Budget session in May.

"Effectively we need to get through two weeks' work in one," he said.

"Labor, the Democrats and others have been the most negative and obstructionist opposition in modern times, knocking back 27 bills and referring another 501 bills to committees in the past seven years.

"These tactics have overloaded the committee system and stifled the legislative program. During Labor's 13 years in office good sense generally prevailed in the Senate with only 273 bills referred to committees."

Senator Campbell said legislation critical to the Government's workplace reform program and its strategy to drive unemployment figures below the current 6 per cent would again go before the Senate this week.

These included the Workplace Relations Amendment (Prohibition of Compulsory Union Fees) Bill 2002, which addresses attempts by unions to impose compulsory fees on non-union members, and the Workplace Relations Amendment (Secret Ballots for Protected Action) Bill 2002, which requires that secret ballots must be held by employees before protected industrial action may be taken. Both bills are listed for debate tomorrow, together with the media ownership legislation.

The full list of business is available online at

"There comes a time when commonsense and cooperation must prevail otherwise the business of government can virtually come to a stop," Senator Campbell said.

"I urge the opposition parties to act in a more responsible way this week."


23 March 2003

Contact: Wayne Grant 02 6277 3955 or 0407 845280

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