Home - Claire Moore - Labor Senator for Queensland

BUSINESS - Rearrangement

Senator MOORE (Queensland) (09:41): It is always interesting in this place when we are accused of being too clever or of bringing on things strangely when all we are doing is using the standing orders in terms of what can happen in this place. Basically, what happened last night was that the Labor Party actually questioned the government on cutting off the process for bringing this bill before us without telling us or discussing with us what their particular reasons were and what the particular urgency issues were on the two bills that they brought before us yesterday afternoon in the Senate. And we blocked it. We said: 'Prove what you are doing is important. Prove what the urgency is.' And they did not.

We actually listened to what was going on and we saw the issues around BSWAT, because we do understand that. There was no discussion with the people on the other side from the government. Usually in this place over a period of time there is a bit of discussion to and fro about what is going on and what is important. Everybody knows that our party is rejecting what the government is trying to do with the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment Bill. And we will continue to use processes within the rules on how we operate in this place to say that we do not like what is happening with that bill.

But last night when the process came forward with two bills-a trade bill and BSWAT-we said no. We said no, as was our right. But we listened to the arguments, and then, when we saw that the issues around BSWAT were so important that the legislation needed to be passed to allow other things to happen, we made this offer in good faith to the government: 'Okay, we understand why BSWAT needs to be debated. Let's separate those two. Let's move on BSWAT.' The Manager of Government Business was not interested, even though I made that offer to him. Then we went through the procedure-went through the votes. When we had an opportunity-when the government and the Greens actually said that they wanted to move forward with the bills-we said, 'Okay, if that one is so important, and it needs to be debated, as we agreed, we need to move forward,' and we made the offer to move immediately into that piece of legislation. Again I made the offer to the government and to the Greens to move forward and have that debate then. Again it was rejected.

And we thought when we came into the chamber today that, because of the urgency that had been identified by the government and by the Greens, we would see BSWAT as the No. 1 order of business on today's Red because the urgency had been so discussed and so identified. So imagine my surprise when I got my copy of the Red to see the importance that the government places on this bill. It had been yelled across the chamber at us last night. Our commitment had been questioned. I think everybody in this chamber actually has a commitment to ensure the importance of people with disabilities; I really do believe that. I do not think it is about some sacrosanct nature of individuals in this place. I think we have shown that together as a parliament over a period of time.

BSWAT, this most important piece of legislation, has been listed as No. 5 after we have gone through dairy; we have to get the dairy legislation finished first. We have to get the social security community development bill through. I believe the actual committee report on that will not be handed down until this afternoon. I am looking at my comrade Senator McAllister. We will not even have the committee report on that until this afternoon. That bill is listed as having more importance and being more urgent than the business services model legislation.

Members of the opposition are not playing any sneaky tricks, as we are being accused of across the chamber. We are using the procedures of the parliament through the standing orders to say that we believe that this bill should be debated urgently. We are ready to do it. We have had the arguments. I think we can come to an agreement and express our concerns about the delays. These delays were caused by government processes and as a result we have to consider the bill at this late stage. Nonetheless, we are ready to do so. We want to have the debate and pass the bill. We think it is important enough to be No. 1 on the order of business today. That is why we have moved for the suspension of standing orders to have it listed as No. 1. I do not think that is too much to ask. It actually reflects the kinds of debates I heard last night. Let us have that debate and let us get this legislation passed.