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.
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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