Friday, 11 July 2014

Abbott Government's conniving falls apart in the Senate

The Abbott Government’s attempts to take advantage of the inexperience of newly-elected senators saw its bills repealing the carbon price mechanism and associated measures rejected by the Senate on 10 July 2014, culminating in this vote:

The PRESIDENT (12:21): The committee has considered the Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013 [No. 2] and has disagreed to the bills. The question now is that the report of the committee be adopted…..
The question is that the report of the committee, disagreeing to all of the bills, be adopted.
Senate divided. [12:23]
(The President—Senator Parry)
Ayes ...................... 37
Noes ...................... 35
Majority ................. 2

Not ten minutes later, this came to pass……

The Coalition is reaping what it sowed. It has repeatedly treated the Parliament with contempt in its effort to neuter parts of Labor's financial advice laws before they had full force on July 1.

Rather than put changes before the Parliament as an amendment to Labor's act, it introduced them by regulation when the Parliament wasn't sitting. It was aware of legal advice from Arnold Bloch Leibler that they would not survive a challenge in the High Court. Regulations are meant to assist the implementation of acts, not to nullify them.

Labor alleges that Treasury sent a copy of the regulations to the Senate tabling office on July 1 and then attempted to withdraw them, saying it didn't want them tabled until the last possible date, next Tuesday, July 15. What is not tabled cannot be disallowed.

Directed by a vote of the Senate to table the regulations immediately, the Minister, Mathias Cormann, refused. Cynics suggest he was trying to delay the process long enough to get through to the five-week parliamentary break and then accuse the Senate of creating uncertainty when it tried to exercise its rights.

Then Labor's Senator Sam Dastyari pulled a stunt, one worthy of Cormann himself.

He read from the regulations and had a Labor senator demand that he table the document he was reading from.

In the confusion the motion passed with the help of the Greens and a handful of independents. On Monday Labor will give notice of a motion to strike the regulations down. If it succeeds, consumers will be protected in the way Parliament originally intended. It will have got around the workaround.

Twitter: @1petermartin

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