At the very start of Senate business at 9.30am this morning, without notice or warning, the Government moved to introduce a guillotine on the workplace relations legislation to force it to a vote by tomorrow. By no coincidence, at the very same time the Government was guillotining the welfare legislation through the House of Representatives. The Government was probably hoping to avoid any further speeches such as that by Liberal MP, Judi Moylan, who was the first government member to actually tell the truth about the core part of the welfare legislation, which is that it will take income away from people who are already amongst the poorest in the community.
The only reason the guillotine wasn’t brought down earlier in the week is because the Government hadn’t reached agreement amongst themselves as to what their own amendments on the legislation would be. Indeed, even when the government was introducing the guillotine in the Senate under the pretext that we should bring on the vote, it still hadn’t produced their own amendments to the Workplace Bill.
Despite giving the Senate Committee (and the public) little more than a week to examine the legislation and write a report, and a little more than a week to draft amendments, with very limited resources, the minor parties have managed to produce a raft of amendments. By contrast the government, with a whole department behind it, has yet to produce a single amendment.
The workplace guillotine will force all of the amendments and the final Bill itself to be voted on by 6pm tomorrow.
As at 11.15am, the Greens have produced 18 amendments (on 4 pages), Family First have produced 21 amendments (4 pages), Labor have produced 5 amendments (1 page) and the Democrats 90 amendments (49 pages). The government have circulated nothing (despite all their statements about having ‘saved Christmas’, etc)
UPDATE: Government amendments were finally circulated at 11.20am – 337 amendments on 98 pages. Under the government’s guillotine, the Senate is required to start considering all these amendments at 12 noon – 471 in total, including all the 337 government amendments which appeared only 40 minutes earlier.
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