Skip navigation

FOR – Business — Consideration of Legislation

Simon Birmingham

Pursuant to contingent notice standing in my name, I move:

That so much of standing order 142 be suspended as would prevent further consideration of the bill without limitation of time.

What we have seen here this morning is yet another Labor attempt to ram legislation through this parliament and to do so with absolutely no consideration of proper process at all. The ramming through of this legislation is a contempt of the parliament, an attack on Australian employers and a further erosion of the Australian economy. And of course it is a circumstance where the government cobbled together whatever deal they possibly could to try to cover up the disaster of the last couple of months that they've had, to try to cover up for the many other manifest failures that they are facing and suffering from.

But, as well, there is a serious side—a very, very serious side—beyond the political tactics that the government might be playing to try to construct some type of end-of-year win, and the serious side relates to a couple of elements. One is the big issue of scrutiny and how this place does its business. Just before half past nine this morning, senators were given the bills that we are now debating. Nobody's had the time to properly read these, yet we're about to be forced to vote on them—roughly 151 minutes of debate for 316 pages of legislation across them. Customarily, government bills come with an explanatory memorandum. Has there been an explanatory memorandum tabled for these bills? No. Of course not, because the government's been making it up on the run to get their political win.

We know that outside of this chamber the reaction to this has been very serious, that different business groups and others, in scrambling to understand what the government has put forward, have seen problems in it and have started raising concerns with the crossbench. So let me say to crossbenchers—those who might, hopefully, be listening—who have constructed this deal with the government: the motion I'm moving will give you more time to actually have a look at those who are saying, 'You might want to consider this amendment' or 'You might want to avoid this inherent problem that exists in what the government's doing,' if you want the time to do this properly, if you want to avoid the risk of unintended consequences.

I know that Senator David Pocock and Senator Lambie have tried, throughout the months of debate on this, to take a more responsible approach. We have acknowledged that, and we have supported them in doing so. But there is a real risk that they have been stitched up by Minister Burke and the Albanese government. They have been stitched up in terms of the things that have been bolted on to the elements that the Labor Party have added into what Senators Lambie and Pocock previously supported. Ultimately the risks of that flow through to the way Australian businesses operate and to the Australian economy overall. That is the greatest risk of all—that these reforms are a great big Christmas present for the trade union movement. We know that their right-of-entry powers, their ability to override enterprise agreements, come into force the day this bill gets royal assent. So, they're making sure they do this for their union mates. Of course, other things, like the industrial manslaughter they talk about so seriously, doesn't come into effect until the middle of next year.

We see the government's priorities here. They've been happy to vote against the bills that this chamber agreed to pass months ago. They've been happy to hold them hostage to getting what they want for the unions. They're happy to prioritise what they want for the unions in terms of the timing of implementation ahead of other reforms in this legislation. And they are ramming it through with next to no time for proper consideration in this chamber.

If senators are serious about the Senate doing its job as a chamber of scrutiny of government then they should support additional time for the consideration of this bill. If senators consider that there are potential economic harms that can come from what the government is doing then they should support this motion. Ultimately, the Labor Party is running an economy at present that is being run into the ground. We can see that in the poor national accounts results. Australians are going backwards. Businesses are feeling increased pain. This legislation is only going to make that worse, hurt productivity, hurt our economy and leave Australians worse off.

Katy Gallagher

I move:

That the question be now put.

Sue Lines

The question is that the motion as moved by Senator Gallagher be agreed to.


Date and time: 12:09 PM on 2023-12-07
Senator Pocock's vote: Aye
Total number of "aye" votes: 32
Total number of "no" votes: 25
Total number of abstentions: 19

Adapted from information made available by