Questioning Question Time

Despite the disproportionate amount of attention often given to Question Time in the federal parliament, I have long felt that it is not only an absurd parody of an accountability mechanism, it can also distort the direction and content of political debate. So I was pleased to see last week that outgoing Senate President, long-serving…

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Sexualisation of children report

The Senate Committee report into the sexualisation of children was tabled last week. It doesn’t seem to have pleased some of the children’s advocacy groups, or Family First for that matter. Clive Hamilton, who has campaigned on the issue for some time, is also pretty peeved, if his piece in Crikey is anything to go by –…

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My actual final speech

Due to the way the government wanted to order Senate business in the final week, the formal Valedictory speeches of departing Senators were not actually the last speech for many of us. Below is the text of what was my actual final speech (and the final words spoken by a Democrat in the Senate).  I…

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Senate shake-up looms

Next week marks the end of the six year terms for 36 of the 76 Senators, and 14 of them will not be coming back when the new Senate sits again in August. The names of those replacing them are at this link.  Most of them have made or will be making Valedictory speeches in this final…

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Report into housing affordability tabled

I’ve written a few earlier posts about the Senate Inquiry into Housing Affordability that was set up earlier this year. The Committee brought down its report yesterday – you can access it by clicking here. Whilst both I and the Greens’ Senator Rachel Siewert added some additional comments, the report has 32 recommendations which had…

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Senates Estimates time again

I am down in Canberra again this week for Senate Estimates – see this link for an idea of what Estimates are about. It is interesting to see how the Liberals are adapting to being on the questioning side and Labor Ministers being on the receiving end, after so many years of the reverse. It…

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Euthanasia Bill hearing in Darwin

I’m in Darwin at the moment for Committee hearings into two separate private Senators’ Bills. One, introduced by Bob Brown, is aimed at restoring the right of the Northern Territory Parliament to legislate in areas relating to euthanasia. The other was introduced by me and is aimed at instituting a national system for providing compensation…

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Housing Inquiry – Campbelltown to Karratha

I’ve been at public hearings over the last three days for the Senate Committee inquiry into Housing Affordability. I won’t give running commentaries on all the evidence presented here. Anyone wanting to engage in some online discussion on some policy specifics might want to visit Possum Pollytics, which has a few posts on the topic. One…

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Housing Affordability inquiry starts hearings

Public hearings for the Senate Inquiry into housing affordability got underway in Canberra today. The Inquiry is due to report by June 16.  The first day of hearings included evidence from people such as the newly expanded Housing section in the Department of Families, the Master Builders’ Association, the Planning Institute, the Urban Development Institute,…

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WorkChoices – what happens when a government stops paying attention?

Parliament resumes this week, although only the House of Representatives is sitting.  The Senate is not sitting, but a range of Senate Committees are engaging in additional Estimates hearings.  I expect the focus on economic management and the current pressures on the economy will continue. No doubt Brian Burke’s extraordinary capacity to keep making life difficult…

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Select Hypocrisy

The value and importance of Senate Committees and their inquiries is well known. Apart from the committees which are permanently in place (known as Standing Committees), the Senate also a long-standing practice of setting up Select Committees, which are committees established solely for the purpose of examining a specific issue. These are usually major inquiries which produce…

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Senate at risk of remaining downgraded

The first Parliamentary sittings of the new government will be starting in a week and a half. When they released the sitting program for the new parliamentary year, Labor managed to get some traction on their efforts to portray the new govenrment as hard-working, because the schedule had the House of Representatives sitting on Fridays…

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