Will there be just one day each to debate the welfare changes and the terror law?

The government has released their draft Senate legislation program for next week. It shows just one day – Monday – set aside for the debate on the terror legislation, with only the Tuesday to deal with the welfare changes. The final 3 sitting days have 15 other pieces of legislation listed, including the VSU Bill and the Northern Territory radioactive waste Bill. I know there are also two motions to disallow Migration Regulations, so the timetable looks seriously unrealistic.

Whilst it is the government’s usual practice to list far too many pieces of legislation on their draft program, the fact that it is the final sitting week and they have been making much more ready use of the guillotine and the gag lately does make me fear that the debates on welfare and terror will be seriously truncated. I have no doubt the government will guillotine them both in the end, and as this reader’s comment to a previous post says, after a certain length of time this is just “hastening the inevitable.” However, the notion that the government would even consider that it could be sufficient to have just a single day’s debate on this legislation (and some still unseen) amendments is seriously concerning.

Despite the large number of flaws and concerns raised about the terror Bill, and the fact that despite all the reports in the media about the agreement Government MPs reached on the terror laws in the privacy of their Party Room, the specific wording of the proposed amendments has not been released as far as I know. All I have seen is the statement released by Minister Ruddock outlining what he says the amendments will achieve. The only amendments released so far that I can find are some by Senator Natasha Stott Despoja.

Of course, as this post at South Sea Republic reminds us, Labor governments at state level are doing exactly the same thing – if not worse .

Some of the most far-reaching changes to police powers and civil liberties in years – the counter-terrorism bill, which allows police to lock people up for 14 days without charge – passed through the NSW upper house at 2am yesterday, after just a day’s debate. ………. The Premier, Morris Iemma, approved the final amendments at the state parliamentary press gallery Christmas party.

Unlike the federal bill, the state laws received no scrutiny from a parliamentary committee.

UPDATE: 5.00pm, Saturday – The debate timetable for this coming week will now be even more cramped, as I have just read the sad news that former Labor Senator and Minister, Peter Cook, has died of cancer. I expect this will mean a significant amount of time set aside for people wanting to speak to a condolence motion. Peter Cook only finished his time in the Senate in July. He was a very effective and intelligent Senator – approachable and good natured, although occasionly prone to flashes of temper.

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5 Comments

  1. The Labor State Governments have a lot less choice than they may appear to have from a distance.

    Most people have no idea about the exact contents of the new anti-terrorism laws. Most people hear “stronger anti-terrorism laws” and think “that makes sense, terrorism is bad”. The amount of debate on questions like “will these anti-terrorism laws help prevent terrorism?” have not received mainstream attention.

    The Labor State governments chose to criticise sections of the new anti-terror laws, but work in with the larger process. The Howard Government clearly wanted to wedge the Labor Party. If the Labor State Governments outright refused to play ball, they would be labelled ‘soft on terrorism’ and ‘exposing the country to danger’. Then, of course, when something does happen, although it would have happened anyway, it will be the fault of the Labor State Governments for not having the strong leadership of the Howard Government.

    I strongly disagree with sections of the new anti-terrorism laws, but respect most of what the state governments have done. They could have made a stronger stand and rewarded the Liberals, but they would been punished at the ballot box, the Liberals would then play the same cards even harder, and we would lose even more.

  2. If all the members of the Coalition play ball, we’re likely to see more of this kind of “efficiency”.

    Labor governments at State level have done some questionable things, but I wonder how much of that was in response to political pressure from the “Australian Government”. I also wonder about how the Coalition’s control of tax revenue, and in particular the flush of GST cash, will be used to further accumulate powers to the Federal government over the next few years.

    Having control of both houses, and a bumper crop of tax dollars, puts the Coalition firmly in the drivers seat. And we know they mean to use it. Their ideological war on The Australia That Was™ has only just begun.

  3. And “honest?” little johnie PROMISED??? that he would not use his majority in the senate in an arrogant manner – oh yes?! Another bl**dy lie it seems.
    Does this politician EVER tell the truth??
    But the dumb greedy electorate continue to vote for this ma – er a politician who continually appears to lie constantly.
    We truly get the leaders we deserve.
    Funny also the Bible states that the basest of men will rule over you. We’ve surely seen this prophecy come to pass. Regards, R. Patterson

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