Guillotine brought in on Terror law after 90 minutes

The Senate started sitting at 12.30pm today, with debate starting on the terror legislation. The speakers list on the Bill circulated by the Government Whip’s office had 28 Senators listed as wanting to speak. This initial list included 8 Liberal Senators. This is quite a large number of government Senators to speak on one Bill. The list also included all 8 Democrat and Green Senators and 12 from Labor.

The government amendments had not been circulated when the debate started, despite the plan for such amendments being announced 4 days ago.

Labor’s Leader in the Senate, Chris Evans, kicked off the debate. 5 speakers, including 2 from the government, were able to give their speech prior to Question Time.

(At around this time, the following prescient piece was published – “Parliament to be replaced with Shutuppiment”.)

Condolence speeches following the death of former Labor Senator and Minister, Peter Cook, occurred after Question Time and went for three hours. These speeches, made by many speakers from all sides, spoke of the immense value of his contribution and how his respect for the Senate and parliamentary institutions was part of the effectiveness of that contribution.

Within seconds of that debate finishing, the government moved, without warning, a guillotine motion. This was only passed because every single Coalition Senator voted for it.

This forced the Second Reading debate on the terror law to finish within less than an hour, preventing most of the people who had indicated a wish to speak from being able to do so. Guillotined at the same time was the welfare package, where the Second Reading debate has been given just two and a half hours, which also has to occur tonight, which has been extended (without notice) to sit through until 11.00pm.

Worse still, the same motion allowed just 3 and a half hours for the entire raft of amendments on the terrorism Bill to be considered, including 74 newly tabled government amendments.

Three and a half hours is also all will are allowed to consider all the amendments on the welfare legislation. Again the government amendments have not even been circulated. Indeed, this will also mean that some amendments from non-government Senators will not be able to be circulated at all, as there is insufficient time for the drafting to be finalised before the guillotine comes into operation.

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35 Comments

  1. This is a B@##$% disgrace.
    All senators except the Government senators may as well stay away.
    At least this action may make the news.

    During the past 43 years, I have voted for the Liberal or National parties on but 2 occasions.

    No more.

  2. I’m not sure if that’s a plausible path of action as it could be seen as being unrepresentative and not doing your job.

    What may be a necessary path of action is to only have your key senator speak on the issue and make all the points that the other party senators would’ve made which of course would require party room activity to decide who to talk and what to say.

  3. It’s good to see Mr Howard sticking by his promise not to abuse his majority in the Senate…

  4. G’day Andrew! While we’re on the topic of the Welfare Reforms, from what you’re able to tell (!!!) what’s the story there? Is it a serious attempt to boot some of these less-deserving goldbricking clowns off the public teat, or is it the kind of nasty attack on single mums and those with a disability we’ve come to expect from the Howard Govt?

  5. adam

    My view is that the motivation behind the welfare changes is a combination of:
    (a) saving money by forcing people on to lower payments; and
    (b) old fashioned hardline conservative ideology that it improves the ‘incentive’ for poor people to work if their income is cut (as opposed to high income earners, who need to have their income increased through tax cuts as incentive to work harder)

  6. This is disgraceful. What happened to democracy? Is there any point even having a Senate when it’s just rubber stamping everything?

  7. Well, if we remember, the Government doesn’t think we should have a Senate. I attended a session at the Victorian State Library a couple of years ago (where I first had the pleasure of meeting Barts) wherein the Government ‘researchers’ postulated a bunch of crap about how the Senate slows down the democratic process, etc. It was a load of crap, but they are still saying it. They hate the Senate. I don’t really understand why they would be so opposed to it, considering the fact that it has delivered them boundless opportunities to claim that Labor, the Greens, the Indies, or the Dems are obstructionist, it has given them total power over the Legislature on a handful of occasions, and it gave them the power to force a double dissolution and a subsequent ousting of the only good Government we’ve ever actually seen in Australia.

    Barts, if you could shine your torch of insight into this intriguing issue, I’d be very grateful. Just why is the Coalition so anti-Senate?

  8. And, if I might add, with a slight trace of bitterness, more than half the people we’re trying to protect bloody voted for this. So bleaurgh. I mean, that’s not to say I won’t keep fighting these awful pieces of legislation, but, seriously, how much sympathy can you have for a country that votes for such people? How much really?

    I’m a bit bloody cynical for my age, but I have to say that, even through the tears of solidarity I shed at the latest Industrial Relations rally in Melbourne (singing ‘Solidarity Forever with about 10,000 people), I looked around and thought to myself, ‘You bloody voted for them – now you lie in your nicely-made beds’.

    Gosh. So much cynicism. So much bitterness. And only 26 years old!

  9. May every person who voted for the coalition stew in their own juice. When the Australian population has had enough of those who treat our liberties and way of life in general with contempt, we will have a change. May you suffer long and hard in the hope that you will learn something from the experience.

  10. Democracy is alive and well, and has once again served the Australian people by keeping idiots well away from the levers of power.

    People like Adam, who said “John Howard’s Liberal Party cruised comfortably to the 2001 election victory having ridden the comtemptible predjudices of its electorate”, and Mike, who says “may every person who voted for the coalition stew in their own juice”, reveal a deep hatred of ordinary Australians.

    Australians, not being stupid, won’t vote for those who hate them. They won’t vote for those who want to make life easy for terrorists either.

    Long may you haters languish in the impotence you have so thoroughly earned for yourselves.

  11. You may be the only person who feels happy about the Tampa outcome, EP. I’d say most Australians consider it a shameful part of our history.

  12. Nonsense, Adam.

    Public opinion polling at the time showed that 77% of Australians agreed with the Government’s actions.

    This example just shows how out of touch you are with ordinary Australians, who rightly reject illegal immigration.

    Incidentally, something like 70% of Australians support the Government’s anti-terrorism legislation.

    When your own views are opposed to those of the vast majority, consider the possibility that perhaps it isn’t everyone else that’s wrong.

  13. Stating that Democracy is alive and well in light of what we have seen this week is simply not reasonable.

    We are seeing our country’s laws being rushed through without due consideration, without the checks and balances that are supposed to be present in our democratic system.

    Similarly, a true democracy is an informed democracy and in the present climate, talking about polls unfortunately doesn’t mean anything.

  14. I’m sorry EP, but many of us will continue to rely on our consciences (as opposed to public opinion polls) in judging these kinds of matters.

  15. Having defended Amanda Vanstone in the Senate last night on a visa controversy, I’m now going to shred whatever remains of my credibility by suggesting that there is a point in (some of) what EP says!

    He is certainly wrong in saying democracy is alive and well – I don’t think it has been terribly well for quite some time, at both federal and state level, but it’s certainly sicker than ever at the moment. Our democracy is meant to be based on the equal distribution and separation of powers between the executive, the courts and the parliament – all of it underpinned by the sovereignty of the people. Unfortunately, the executive is now far more powerful than the other two arms, with the courts only just holding their own and the parliament pretty much left on the sidelines 99% of the time. The people’s sovereignty is also severely compromised by the level of dishonesty from governments, the undemocratic nature of many political parties and the widespread discouragement of civil enagagement.

    HOWEVER, I think EP has a point in emphasising that many people can (and obviously did) vote for this government without all of those people being evil or selfish or ignorant. We do need to try to look dispassionately at why people might vote for Mr Howard’s mob, rather than just sit back and abuse them. I know everyone needs to let off steam when they perceive gross injustices such as are happening at the moment, and blogs are a place to do such things, but I also believe strongly that it is a trap to take on an antagonistic mindset towards all the government’s supporters, because that reduces the chances of those supporters being convinced to change their views.

    Having said that, it is interesting to note how venomous people often are when they rage about other people being haters of the Australian public, John Howard, etc.

  16. Ranting’s of a vary poor looser Mr Bartlett. The Libs got the majority under the same system you were happy to participate in.

    What would you do? Put quotas for none government candidates in the Senate. That’s un-democratic.

  17. Hi Andrew and others,

    I believe that Australians get what they vote for. Australians have generally become complacent and apathetic and now they are suffering for it.

    Andrew is right in saying that our democracy is sick. It is not in the best possible state it could be. Instead of everyone attacking Senator Bartlett’s comments what we should all be doing is coming up with ideas to improve our democracy.

    Ideas like having fixed parliamentary terms to stop political parties from manipulating the electorate or calling an election at the most convenient time. This would level the playing field and would make it fairer for all parties.

    I think the Senate election method should remain as it is and I also believe that proportional representation should be introduced in to the House of Representatives to make it truly representative of how people vote. This would make the Government of the day even more accountable.

    There are many other things that can be done to improve our democracy (like allowing ample time to debate important issues.) Unfortunately the Howard Government and indeed the ALP when in Government use guillotines to gag debate for their convenience. Stopping some representatives from speaking on nation changing issues at the exclusion of others is a slap in the face to proper parliamentary and democratic process.

    There needs to be an independent presiding officer in both houses to ensure that standing orders are applied without favour and Government ministers who do not answer questions within a certain time frame (appropriate for the issue) should be held in contempt of parliament. Last but not least, the Prime Minister and all party leaders should stringently apply the ministerial code of conduct which at the moment is constantly contravened with no consequenses arising.

    I could go on all day.

  18. MB, I agree with some of the procedural reforms apathetyou propose.

    But Ican’t agree with your idea that Australians “have become complacent and apathetic and now they are suffering for it”.

    Australians were not complacent when they chose the best government from the available alternatives, nor are they apathetic when they form opinions about the issues of the day. You mistakenly imagine that people aren’t considering the issues, just because they come to a different conclusion than you do. This is arrogance.

    Australians aren’t suffering, either. We have the highest employment rate, the highest wages, the best facilities and infrastructure, and the best international standing we have ever had. The reason Howard keeps getting re-elected is because he’s a bloody good PM who delivers results.

    But it’s much easier to complain about the voters than it is to try to overcome your own faults, so the Left continues to vilify Australians and then wonders why it never gets elected.

  19. Perhaps I should have been more explicit Mr Bartlett but your reply proves it would have been a waisted effort.

  20. Elections, in my view, are not a method for electing the best government. Instead, they are a system that hopefully prevents real extremism. That’s all. Nothing more, nothing less. Pretending that they represent some considered and educated opinion of the “Australian public” is just plain dumb.

    After all, as I recall the last three elections were won because we were promised $9.82 per week (’98), no more g’damn freeloadin’ brown peoples (’01) and because despite not being able to find a single source to agree with them the government told people that interest rates would be 15% under the ALP (’04). Pretending that there exists some great and wise force known as the “Australian people” is a noble and romantic idea, but so was communism.

    Howard ran great campaigns and won elections. Somewhat disingenious to call this a “mandate” in the modern era though.

  21. Dan,
    Where did you hear the terms of the promises as outlined in your above contribution.

    If memory serves me correctly, the 1998 election was fought on the GST which the government put transparently before the people. That proposal included tax cuts.

    When the legislation was brought before the senate it was blocked and only proceeded with significant concessions being agreed by the Democrats. The tax cuts that came with the original package were subsequently amended to reflect the projected shortfall in income as a result of those changes. The Democrats at the time said that low income earners were better off as a result. Now if you want the GST to apply to food and the other exemptions that were in the amendments you might make a submission to the Democrats.

    If you didn’t get the tax cut you thought you would then take up the matter with the Democrats.

    The 2001 election was fought on a number of issues but I don’t recall any policy about promising ” no more g’damn freeloadin’ brown peoples”. The issue of border protection and illegal immigration was certainly prominent. Is that what you are talking about?

    In 2004 interest rates were a big issue. You might be able to tell me where the Government said that interest rates would be 15% under the ALP. I think the general argument was along the lines that interest rates would be highr under a Labor government than a Coalition government. Somehow history seems to bear out that claim and people seem to have long memories when it comes to interest rates.

    So all your claims regarding the issues at those elections seem rather coloured by a little venting of spleen as they bear little relationship to actually what was put forward at the elections.

  22. Why don’t people put their true names on this website – are they afraid of being arrested without trial under the new sedition laws? Or of their relatives being locked up for 5 years or kept in house detention indefinitely?

    During the present term of the Howard gov. there has been a steady erosion of the democracy and freedom we fought for in Gallipoli, New Guinea and elsewhere and a marked increase in outright dishonesty and gagging of proper debate. Whatever the majority voted for I doubt it was the application of the rule of exception, or dishonesty, which has reached its zenith in Zimbabwe, Burma, Thailand, USA and China. Its going that way in Australia now.

    I suspect many people voted for Howard because he made them feel comfortable and gave them a false sense of safety, he appealed to the consumer mentality. Personally I value social and individual autonomy and dialectical debate. I prefer to be called a person, not a consumer and I don’t always expect to feel comfortable. Democracy doesn’t flourish when we pay more attention to our hip pockets rather than putting ourselves on the line.

    Thank goodness for Andrew Bartlett, one of the few politicians aware of the veils we draw over our assumptions and unaware tendencies.

    I don’t like Evil Pundit’s style of debate – rather like a punch drunk boxer scoring points – but he obviously has a concern. What lies behind his fear? What is his real worry and why does he have it? Why can’t he see the slide towards fascism? Our laws are now quite similar to those of Apartheid South Africa, as J M Coetzee has said.

    A democracy is a fragile thing. It doesn’t work on the rule of the majority – it works on inclusiveness, debate and the rule of judicial law, among other things. AB has the balance right, as do a few of the liberals, one or two labour, the lone green and a few others in parliament.

    I fear for the Senate – it is one of the great institutions of today’s world because it allows some minorities the right to engage in thoughtful and reasoned debate before passing laws in which most of us have no input. Personally I resent people making draconian decisions which affect me and over which I have no control. I believe, in a true democracy, you can incorporate a great diversity of views and beliefs and should be able to produce laws which are not open to abuse and the suspension of basic rights. The UN bill of Human rights wasn’t thrashed out and agonised over for nothing, but because many people saw the way to a better way of living other than the miasmic collection of constantly warring and exploitive states we see now.

  23. Evil Pundit is certainly wrong when he states we have the highest employment rate we have ever had, to those old enough to remember back to the early 1970’s we had almost 100% employment. The current unemployment are as close to reality as a Tolkein novel. The introduction of things such as the Parental Income and Assets Tests for unemployed youth has removed benefits for large numbers of them, they remain unemployed but no longer get counted in the stats, this also happened earlier with the introduction of the Mature Age Allowance that removed older unemployed people from the unemployment stats.

    Interestingly, the new welfare changes will move single mothers and disabled people onto the unemployment stats causing a rise sometime in the future. What are the odds that this rise will find its way onto the unemployment rate sometime after the next election?

  24. amortiser – I suspect I got roughly the tax cut promised in 1998. My issue is I think the electorate rejected social justice in favour of a pathetically small amount of money. I recall very clearly every second advertisement on Tv during campaign described the miniscule monetary benefit of voting Liberal for people in various demographics.

    And you are obviously joking where you try to pretend the 2001 election was won based on anything other than pandering to the same ignorant rednecks who embraced Pauline Hanson.

    It is also well established that the coalition was re-elected in 2004 due to a scare campaign on interest rates. A scare campaign that they failed to find a single serious accounting or auditing firm to back up with a report.

  25. i think i want to revoke my aus’ citizenship because of this government. What would it take to oust these people, these kind of people from positions of power? Is it totally impossible to double dissolute this government? i would go to the international law court over liability for the sonar weapons testing of the nsw coastline, and shoalwater bay , and kupa piti … where in the infrastructure of our situation do we have the opportunity to express our dissent?

  26. Only at the next election Tanya, unlike the USA, we cannot petition a vote of no confidence to remove elected politicians mid term. In this case “Universal Sufferage” is an apt description.

  27. After listening to the entire senate debate on Tuesday I was prompted into action rather than quiet discontent.

    Roger, you made some interesting points and I agree with much of what you wrote. As for the success of the Howard government in recent elections, I believe elections are now won or lost on marketing rather than policies or morals. Indeed, policies are rarely disclosed in detail during an election, depriving the people of the opportunity to make an informed decision. John Howard understands good marketing, whereas the other parties are trying to compete using the old methods of policies and debate (which I prefer, btw).

    As for control over the passing of laws to which you do not consent: the only solution I can think of is to move back to classical democracy, also known as Athenian or direct democracy, where the people directly vote on legislation?

    tanta-c, your local member is the opportunity to express your dissent, especially if they are Liberal. Ask the hard questions.

    I am less proud to be an Australian today than I have ever been.

  28. i think i want to revoke my aus’ citizenship because of this government.

    I only wish that people who say they are going to leave Australia in disgust, because they don’t like the choice made by the majority of voters, would do so.

    Unfortunately these grandstanders, like Toni Collette who promised to slash her wrists if Howard won, are rarely sincere.

    Then they wonder why people don’t take them seriously.

    What would it take to oust these people, these kind of people from positions of power?

    An alternative party that offers the people what they want — instead of lashing out at Australians for choosing their own best interests over hypocritical leftist ideology.

    I am less proud to be an Australian today than I have ever been.

    Hating Australians will keep you in the political wilderness — which is where you’ll belong until you learn to overcome such childish resentments.

  29. Damn – I have to (mostly) defend EP again :-)

    I agree with other commenters that there is much to be angry and even ashamed about with what the government has done, and I understand their frustration. However, just lashing out at the general public for voting for the Coalition won’t help.

    If you disagree with what the government has done, (as I do), we should focus on ensuring people know what the Liberals have done, why it’s bad and why voting for other options would be better. As EP said, if you want a change of government, you have to offer people a political choice that provides what they want. Just bagging the public for being selfish isn’t going to help make that happen.

  30. Evil Pundit Says:
    December 8th, 2005 at 12:59 pm
    “i think i want to revoke my aus’ citizenship because of this government.

    I only wish that people who say they are going to leave Australia in disgust, because they don’t like the choice made by the majority of voters, would do so”.

    EP, actually over 1 million Australians now live overseas and are leaving at a faster rate now than at any time in the countries history.

    When I returned to Australia in October 2003( and left 10 months later in disgust at how far downhill the country had gone) Amanda Vanstone was asking for details from people why they had left Australia for a report on the Australian exodus from Australia.

    Perhaps Andrew Bartlett can find out what the outcome of the report was for us. I would certainly be most interested.

  31. Paul

    I imagine there are a number of people who like yourself have left Australia for the reasons you cite. However, the movement of people into and out of most countries is far greater than it has ever been because people are far more mobile – which on the whole I think is a good thing, because there is more scope for people to go somewhere that suits them, whether for ecomonic, social, emotional or political reasons (or usually a combination thereof).

    I’m not sure if its the specific report you refer to, but a Senate Committee relased quite a useful inquiry into Aussie ex-pats earlier this year – it can be found at http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/legcon_ctte/expats03/index.htm. It received an enormous amount of submissions and interest, which is a good sign of how many Aussies living overseas still retain an interest and attachment into their country.

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