Senate Committee reports – the good, the bad and the minority

The Senate Committee report into the terror law that was tabled today provides a very good example of how valuable it can be when a few government Senators show sufficient courage to actually admit to and point out significant flaws in a piece of legislation. On this occasion, the Government (and non-government) Senators recommended over 50 changes that should be made. Margot Kingston’s site provides some good detail and background on it. Michelle Grattan says all that needs to be said about how irresponsible the Government is being in stubbornly refusing to consider the proposed amendments.

Unfortunately, the Senate Committee report on the welfare changes provides a terrible contrast. This is an example of government Senators who wimped out and ignored the blatant evidence that many thousands of poorer Australians will be made significantly worse off, instead coming up with only a few suggested changes of no great significance.

One thing which has been pleasing has been the number of mainstream media commentators (and a few bloggers) who have picked up on the Democrats’ very good minority report to the Committee Inquiry into the workplace relations laws written by Senator Andrew Murray. I’ve spent years saying there’s not much point doing detailed minority reports for Senate Committees because the media never pays any attention to them and hardly anyone else ever reads them, and then people all make a liar out of me by not only reading this one, but quoting from it. Sort of frustrating in a way, but good to see none the less.

Debate on the workplace legislation started today. There has been about thirteen speakers so far, which I expect is not even half way. We’ve got about 35 pages of amendments circulated. I hope there is at least some opportunity to debate this sort of detail before the government moves to gag the debate and force a vote.

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