The revolt by some Liberal backbenchers against the latest anti-refugee laws has led to the legislation being shelved until the parliament resumes in August. At the same time, legislation making changes to fuel tax procedures is up for debate in the Senate today, with a lot of concern that it will harm the biodiesel and ethanol industry. It is possible that Barnaby Joyce and maybe one or two others may support amendments to this.
(In addition to watching proceedings live online by clicking here, you can also follow the progress of business through the day by clicking on this link, which will take you to the “Dynamic Red” which continually updates what business has transpired through the day.)
In regard to the anti-refugee legislation, the Prime Minister has said “major changes” have been offered to those Liberals concerned about the legislation, while simultaneously insisting that “the proposed changes do not alter the thrust of the bill or the fundamental principles (sic) of the Government’s offshore processing system.” The apparent contradiction between these two statements did not seem to be commented on in the media.
Not only does John Howard have some backbenchers revolting against the new anti-refugee law, he has other backbenchers revolting against those who are revolting!
The apparent Cabinet decision to reject any further changes to the law regarding stem cells, despite the recommendations of the government initiated Lockhart Review, is also causing a lot of unrest amongst some Liberal backbenchers. There is certainly a strong lobby amongst some conservative MPs to prevent any further changes to the laws adopted by Parliament in a conscience vote in 2002.
The conservative’s case is being strengthened by a lack of awareness about the terminology and details involved. A practice of creating embryonic stem cells through transferring a cell nucleus into a human egg is unhelpfully referred to by the shorthand label of ‘therapeutic cloning’. This understandably leads many people to confuse it with human cloning, which is already banned and no one is proposing to un-ban.