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ABSTAINED – Committees — Selection of Bills Committee; Report

Anne Urquhart

I present the first report of 2024 of the Selection of Bills Committee. I seek leave to have the report incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The report read as follows—

SELECTION OF BILLS COMMITTEE

REPORT NO. 1 OF 2024

8 February 2024

MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE

Senator Anne Urquhart (Government Whip, Chair)

Senator Wendy Askew (Opposition Whip)

Senator Ross Cadell (The Nationals Whip)

Senator Pauline Hanson (Pauline Hanson's One Nation Whip)

Senator Nick McKim (Australian Greens Whip)

Senator Ralph Babet

Senator the Hon. Anthony Chisholm

Senator the Hon. Katy Gallagher

Senator Matt O'Sullivan

Senator David Pocock

Senator Paul Scarr

Senator Lidia Thorpe

Senator Tammy Tyrrell

Senator David Van

Secretary: Tim Bryant

02 6277 3020

SELECTION OF BILLS COMMITTEE

REPORT NO. 1 OF 2024

  1. The committee met in private session on Wednesday, 7 February 2024 at 7.40 pm.

  2. The committee recommends that—

(a) the provisions of the COAG Legislation Amendment Bill 2023 be referred immediately to the Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 14 March 2024 (see appendix 1 for a statement of reasons for referral);

(b) the Criminal Code Amendment (Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes) Bill 2024 be referred immediately to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 13 November 2024 (see appendix 2 for a statement of reasons for referral); and

(c) the provisions of the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Enhancing Consumer Safeguards and Other Measures) Bill 2023 be referred immediately to the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 14 March 2024 (see appendix 3 for a statement of reasons for referral).

  1. The committee recommends that the following bills not be referred to committees:

  2. The committee deferred consideration of the following bills to its next meeting:

Treasury Laws Amendment (Foreign Investment) Bill 2024

Treasury Laws Amendment (Cost of Living—Medicare Levy) Bill 2024.

  1. The committee considered the following bills but was unable to reach agreement:

Administrative Review Tribunal (Consequential and Transitional Provisions No. 1) Bill 2023

(Anne Urquhart)

Chair

8 February 2024

Appendix 1

S ELECTION OF BILLS COMMITTEE

Proposal to refer a bill to a committee

Name of bill:

COAG Legislation Amendment Bill 2023

Reasons for referral/principal issues for consideration:

To carefully investigate this legislation and provide interested stakeholders the opportunity to comment on the legislation.

Possible submissions or evidence from:

A range of stakeholders and interested parties.

Committee to which bill is to be referred:

Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee

Possible hearing date(s):

February

Possible reporting date:

14 March 2024

Print name:

Wendy Askew

Appendix 2

SELECTION OF BILLS COMMITTEE

Proposal to ref er a bill to a committee

Name of bill:

Criminal Code Amendment (Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes) Bill 2024

Reasons for referra1/principal issues for consideration:

To examine the bill in more detail and hear from various stakeholders.

Possible submissions or evidence from:

Committee to which bill is to be referred:

Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee

Possible hearing date(s):

May to September 2024

Possible reporting date:

13 November 2024

(signed)

Whip/ Selection of Bills Committee member

Senator Thorpe

Appendix 3

S ELECTION OF BILLS COMMITTEE

Proposal to refer a bill to a committee

Name of bill:

Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Enhancing Consumer Safeguards and Other Measures) Bill 2023

Reasons for referral/principal issues for consideration:

To carefully investigate this legislation and provide interested stakeholders the opportunity to comment on the legislation.

Possible submissions or evidence from:

A range of stakeholders and interested parties including from the Communications sector.

Committee to which bill is to be referred:

Environment and Communications Legislation Committee

Possible hearing date(s):

February

Possible reporting date:

14 March 2024

Print name:

Wendy Askew

I move:

That the report be adopted.

Katy Gallagher

I move the following amendment:

At the end of the motion, add "and, in respect of the Administrative Review Tribunal Bill 2023, the Administrative Review Tribunal (Consequential and Transitional Provisions No. 1) Bill 2023 and the Administrative Review Tribunal (Consequential and Transitional Provisions No. 2) Bill 2024, the provisions of the bills be referred immediately to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 13 March 2024".

The government supports the referral of these bills to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee with a reporting date of 13 March. These bills will abolish the AAT and replace it with a new administrative review body that is user focused, efficient, accessible, independent and fair. Over nine years, the Liberals stacked the AAT with as many as 85 former Liberal MPs, failed Liberal candidates, former Liberal staffers and other close Liberal associates without any merit based selection process, including some individuals with no relevant experience or expertise. The AAT's public standing was irreversibly damaged as a result of the actions of the previous government.

The bills have been informed by significant consultation over a year, including guidance from an expert advisory group led by the former High Court justice the Hon. Patrick Keane AC KC and engagement over many months with AAT staff and members, AAT users, peak bodies, legal assistance providers, advocates and other experts. These bills are also currently the subject of an inquiry by the House Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs, and there is no reason why the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee cannot complete its inquiry by 13 March.

Despite this, the Liberal Party want the Senate committee to take until July to consider these bills. We all know why the Liberal Party is voting to delay these bills for as long as possible by delaying the committee process—because they are protecting their stack. But what is particularly shocking today is the fact that the Greens are joining them. Our understanding is the Australian Greens will join with the Liberal Party to disrupt and delay these generational reforms that implement key recommendations of the robodebt royal commission and which are directed at ensuring that nothing like robodebt ever happens again. This is a terrible betrayal of the tens of thousands of people who need to seek independent reviews of government decisions that have major and sometimes life-altering impacts on their lives—decisions such as whether an older Australian receives an age pension, whether a veteran is compensated for a service injury or whether a NDIS participant receives funding for essential support.

We are committed to restoring trust and confidence in Australia's system of administrative review, bringing with it the establishment of a new administrative review body that is user focused, efficient, accessible, independent and fair. We are committed to this reform. I'm hopeful that senators in this place will come to their senses and change their minds about the amendment they are about to put, and that we can get the support of the majority of this chamber for a referral for a report by 13 March 2024.

Nick McKim

I move an amendment to the government amendment:

At the end of the motion, add:

"and, in respect of the Administrative Review Tribunal Bill 2023, the Administrative Review Tribunal (Consequential and Transitional Provisions No. 1) Bill 2023 and the Administrative Review Tribunal (Consequential and Transitional Provisions No. 2) Bill 2024, the provisions of the bills be referred immediately to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for inquiry and report by 24 July 2024."

Michaelia Cash

I want to respond to the comments made by Senator Gallagher. You'd think that this government, based on the comments made, was giving the Senate adequate time to review what is a very complex piece of legislation. The irony of what Senator Gallagher said is not lost on me, because, when this part of the day finishes, guess what we're about to do, colleagues? Yet again, in typical Labor style, bang—we're going to guillotine another piece of legislation. They're going to slip in today an amendment that until last night nobody had actually seen. This is a government, colleagues, that—just remember—talked big about transparency prior to the election; I'll go through shortly the words the Prime Minister liked to utter on a regular basis. Since they have been elected they have used their numbers in this place—and to those journos who are saying the IR legislation is a huge win for Labor, I suggest you look at the numbers that Labor deals with in the Senate now. It is hardly a big thing to get your legislation through, particularly given the numbers we dealt with when we were in government—at least 10 crossbenchers across the spectrum.

Today we're going to jump in with the Greens and support the Greens here. Why are we supporting the Greens' amendment on this? Because they actually, like us, want to review this legislation properly. This is a huge piece of legislation. The AAT has directly fed into it around 400 pieces of legislation. In terms of the stakeholders I have already spoken to, I can tell you they are not in any way over this legislation.

There is need for improvement in the AAT. We tried to improve it over successive governments. It is a huge tribunal—one that makes very serious decisions. Ramming this legislation through the parliament without the proper scrutiny from the Australian Senate is an affront to the actual piece of legislation and goes against everything this government said it would do prior to the election in relation to transparency. We'll get onto the Attorney-General of Australia shortly because, I tell you, he still likes to talk to this day about transparency, yet he is the one minister in this government who, when it comes to transparency, just likes to use the numbers and push things through the Senate with little to no review.

The role of the Australian Senate is very basic. It's taught in politics 101 classes. In fact if you asked a year 10 student in school to write about it they'd tell you the basic role of the Australian Senate is to be a house of review. We actually take that role seriously, particularly given the fact that the government uses its numbers in this chamber to ram through piece after piece after piece of legislation. The average Australian doesn't know what the government's doing in this place. But guess what? Over the next few months and years, they will feel the impact of the legislation across the board, portfolio by portfolio, that this government, by using its numbers in the Senate, is ramming through this place with little to no scrutiny. That is actually dangerous.

The role of the Senate is to understand the impact of legislation. It is to understand whether or not the legislation that is being put forward, in this case, is actually going to make the system better or, as the case may well be, make the system worse. That's all we want to do. That's all we and the Australian Greens want to do, and the Australian Greens and I are not often in the same place. I tell you that, in the interests of transparency, in the interests of discharging our role as the Australian Senate and in the interests of those people who are actually affected by decisions of the AAT, we need to take this seriously. We need to stand up to Mr Albanese, the Prime Minister, and stand up to Mr Dreyfus, the Attorney-General, and say to them: 'No, we're not going to cop this. We're actually going to do our job and review this legislation.'

Long debate text truncated.

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ABSTAINED – Bills — Australian Education Amendment (Save Our Public Schools) Bill 2023; Second Reading

Penny Allman-Payne

I rise today in favour of the Australian Education Amendment (Save Our Public Schools) Bill 2023. This bill would replace the so-called cap on the Commonwealth's share of public school funding with a floor. This would mean the education minister must commit 25 per cent as a minimum towards the bilateral funding agreements with states and territories.

For too long public schools have fallen through the cracks, with neither the states nor the federal government interested in, or capable of, delivering 100 per cent schooling resource standard funding. Let's be very clear about what the schooling resource standard is: it's the absolute bare minimum of funding. The SRS is only designed to get 80 per cent of students across the line; we're not reaching for the stars here. This bill would also introduce an obligation on the education minister to ensure that every school-aged child in Australia has access to a fully funded government school. It's common sense. The community expects the education minister to ensure every child gets the education they deserve, and our bill makes this his job.

I've brought this bill into the parliament today because we can't wait a moment longer. Teachers, students, parents and carers can't wait a moment longer. Today, the Australian Education Union, the Australian Council of State School Organisations, the Australian Government Primary Principal Association, the Australian Secondary Principals Association, the Australian Special Education Principals Association, the Australian Primary Principals Association and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Principals Association have come together to demand that the Prime Minister fulfil his election promise to end the underfunding crisis and deliver 100 per cent of funding to public schools. And that starts by lifting the Commonwealth contribution to a minimum of 25 per cent. That's what this bill does today. Labor could answer these cries and pass this bill right now. Labor could commit to 25 per cent. Labor could commit to ending the tax depreciation rort exploited by the states. Labor could commit to the first step in ending this crisis. Governments like to pretend this stuff is hard, but it's actually quite simple: increase the funding share of the Commonwealth to at least 25 per cent and close the accounting loophole that lets states contribute less than their full commitment. The legislated 20 per cent cap is a coalition relic which lets Labor off the hook. It's clear that many states and territories are unable, or unwilling, to meet their funding obligations. But, with this so-called cap in place, the federal government can simply shrug its shoulders.

We have seen a decade of decay and rot set into our public schools. We have seen story after story of what this rot has done to education. Buildings are falling apart and riddled with mould. Teachers are working incredibly long days and digging into their own pockets to pay for classroom basics. There are unprecedented levels of workload intensification and stress. Kids are prevented from attending field trips and excursions because neither parents nor the schools can afford it.

We are at a critical juncture. Do we continue down this pathway, continuing to watch our public schools limp along, with millions of kids left behind? Public education should be the bedrock of a healthy and vibrant democracy. Quality education is a launch pad for so many terrific and wonderful things. It opens doors. It envelops kids in a community and allows them to experiment with their interests. For this reason, every single child in this wealthy country should be afforded access to a free and high-quality education. Yet, time and time again, we've seen Labor and the coalition fail to show up for our kids.

It's no secret what's happening—98 per cent of public schools in the country are underfunded. Every year, public schoolkids are robbed of $6.6 billion. That means schools don't have the money to pay for the bare minimum level of staffing and educational resources that they need. Under existing funding arrangements, the federal government meets its 20 per cent commitment, but most states and territories are not paying their 80 per cent share and, on current trajectories, they never will. We have an absurd situation where the federal government, with vastly more revenue than the states and territories, is chiefly responsible for subsidising the overfunded private sector.

What we've seen over the last few weeks in Western Australia is that pressure works. Pressure from the Greens, the unions, teachers, parents and carers is working. Without this pressure, it's hard to imagine this government lifting its finger on school funding. But we must be crystal clear. Labor's deal with the WA government is not a deal for full funding. It is not even a deal for minimum funding. This is a deal that locks in underfunding until 2029 for 300,000 WA schoolkids. Accounting trickery introduced under the Morrison government means states and territories are able to claim four per cent in non-school costs as part of their contribution to public school funding. That means that, even if this statement of intent produces actual reforms, the WA school system will receive only 96 per cent of its bare minimum of funding. Labor need to be honest and transparent with parents, carers and teachers, and they need to close this loophole in the next round of bilateral agreements.

Labor is in power federally and in every mainland state and territory. This is an historically rare opportunity to end a decade of broken pledges and false dawns and deliver on the promise of Gonski once and for all. The Labor government know that they must act on the funding of public schools or join the long list of failed school reformers who came before them.

With the review to inform a better and fairer education system recommending 10-year funding agreements, delivering full SRS funding at the start of the next agreement is critical. Otherwise, public schools around the country will struggle through another wasted decade. Labor's capitulation on Gonski locked in a decade of underfunding for public schools and overfunding of private schools. We are now at crisis point. If Labor once again fumble the ball and fail to deliver the funding that public schools desperately need, then they will need to answer to 276 million public school students, their parents, carers and teachers. Public schools have waited long enough for 100 per cent SOS funding, and this bill will help get it done.

Long debate text truncated.

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ABSTAINED – Documents — United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East; Order for the Production of Documents

Mehreen Faruqi

I move:

That there be laid on the table by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, by no later than 9.30 am on Thursday, 8 February 2024, the following documents relating to the decision on 27 January 2024 to pause Australia's funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA):

(a) all documents, advice and correspondence between the office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and:

(i) the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,

(ii) the Department of Defence,

(iii) the Attorney General's Department, and

(iv) the Department of Home Affairs;

(b) all documents, advice and correspondence between the office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and:

(i) United Nations agencies including UNRWA, and

(ii) other foreign governments; and

(c) all documents, advice and correspondence that the Minister for Foreign Affairs relied on in making the decision, including evidence of Israel's allegations against UNRWA.

David Pocock

by leave—I move the amendments to Senator Faruqi's motion circulated in my name:

Omit "Thursday, 8", substitute "Monday, 26".

Omit paragraph (a)(ii).

Paragraph (b), omit subparagraphs (i) and (ii), substitute "United Nations agencies, including UNRWA".

Paragraph (c), omit "documents, advice and correspondence that the Minister for Foreign Affairs relied on in making the decision, including", add after "evidence" the words "the government has received in support".

Sue Lines

The question is that the amendments put by Senator David Pocock be agreed to.

Question negatived.

The question now is that general business notice of motion no. 452, standing in the name of Senator Faruqi, be agreed to.

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ABSTAINED – Business — Rearrangement

Marielle Smith

The question is that the motion to suspend standing orders be agreed to.

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ABSTAINED – Business — Rearrangement

Jordon Steele-John

I seek leave to move a motion relating to general business notice of motion No. 451, as circulated.

Leave not granted.

Pursuant to contingent notice standing in the name of Senator Waters, I move:

That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent me from moving a motion to provide for the consideration of a matter, namely a motion to allow a motion relating to general business notice of motion No. 451, relating to Gaza, to be moved and determined immediately.

Here today, we know that 26,000 people have been killed in Gaza. Those who remain are at severe risk of disease and starvation, and this risk only grows daily. In the face of this horror, our community has not fallen into indifference or been paralysed by despair. Rather, they have fallen into community. Together, our community have taken action. They've been arm in arm at the picket line, rallied in their thousands and shared content online, bringing Palestinian voices into our living rooms and onto our phones. The horrific reality is that from these living rooms and through these phones we have borne witness to genocide. Our community have known this for months, and in January the International Court of Justice made their interim ruling.

The Albanese government's response to this has been completely inadequate. Instead of calling for an end to the genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanitarian laws and destruction, they have cut aid and funding supplied to keep Palestinians alive, while continuing to support and resource the Israel Defense Forces, giving them the cover and the capacity that they need to continue to carry out atrocity. The Greens and the community are imploring the Australian government to take new measures to send a strong message that these crimes are unacceptable to the Australian community and illegal under international law.

The government could formally intervene and voice its support for South Africa's genocide case against the State of Israel at the International Court of Justice. The Australian government could apply Magnitsky style sanctions to Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, and his entire war cabinet. The Australian government could reinstate immediately the financial resources that it has denied to the very organisations fighting right now to keep Palestinian children alive, to keep starvation at bay, to provide people with the water and medication which has been illegally denied them by the actions of the State of Israel. And the Australian government could unequivocally state its support for a permanent and immediate ceasefire. There is so much that this government could be doing, and yet it is simply choosing not to. This government is out of step with the Australian community and, far too often in the course of the last 120 days, has been in step with the United States and others who have sought to cover for the State of Israel and its crimes.

As a community we want a ceasefire, we want peace and an end to the illegal occupation, and we expect the government to work to achieve this. Instead, we are seeing the government choose the side of the occupier, choose the side of the invader and continue to back up perpetrators of these crimes in international spaces. It is choosing to take funds for life-saving aid away from those providing that aid on the ground.

Now, in the face of this reality, our community will continue to protest. Our community will protest, we will organise, we will take to the picket lines again and again in the name of a just and lasting peace, and we will call out Labor's woeful response. We in the Greens will keep talking about Palestine, no matter how uncomfortable it makes those in this place feel.

Don Farrell

Listening to Senator Steele-John, you might not recall that, on 7 October, brutal Hamas terrorists—

I sat quietly, Senator, while you made your statement. I'd like to get the same respect, if you don't mind.

I'd ask for the same respect. What I'm saying is that it would seem, from listening to your address a moment ago, Senator Steele-John, that the events of 7 October, when Hamas terrorists murdered, raped and kidnapped innocent Israeli civilians, did not occur, but they did occur, Senator Steele-John. Australia is a respected voice on the conflict in the Middle East, even if we're not central players in the Middle East. The government is using Australia's voice to strongly advocate the release of hostages, the protection of civilians, humanitarian access and a pathway out of this conflict. It's of deep regret that the government does not have partners in this effort, especially the Greens, who are only looking at how they use this crisis to whip up votes. That's the reality.

Honourable senators interjecting—

That is the reality. You're only using this to whip up votes as a—

Marielle Smith

Senator Farrell, resume your seat, please. Senator Steele-John was heard in silence. That is a respectful approach. I ask that Senator Farrell be able to make his remarks in silence.

Nick McKim

On a point of order, Acting Deputy President: Senator Farrell is impugning the motives of—

Marielle Smith

There is no point of order, Senator McKim.

Nick McKim

There is actually a point of order, based on the President's ruling yesterday in regard to Senator Hume. I ask that you either rule now or come back to the chamber later with a ruling on whether impugning the motives, which is clearly what happened, of a group of people—that is, the Greens senators—in this place in the most despicable way is within or contrary to standing orders.

Paul Scarr

On the point of order: the point of order yesterday that was raised was in relation to Senator Hume's reference to the government and use of the term 'lie', which has a particular connotation in the context of our standing orders. With due respect to Senator McKim, I don't think there's substance to his point of order.

Marielle Smith

My advice is that it's appropriate to rule against that point of order, but, as I am acting in this chair, if I you would like me to have a conversation with the President about that at a later stage, I will. But my advice is that Senator Farrell is in order.

Don Farrell

If the Greens were sincere in their concern about the crisis in the Middle East, they would be engaging on a pathway to peace and keeping our community unified. But, instead, what we see of the Greens is that they're seeking to divide our community simply to pick up votes. I would remind the Greens that right now—

Honourable senators interjecting—

I know you don't want to listen to this, but right now there are more than 130 hostages currently being held by Hamas. An estimated 1.7 million people in Gaza are internally displaced, and there are increasingly fewer places for the Palestinians to go. I remind the Senate that we are seeing attacks on Iran-aligned militias right across the region. The Houthis are conducting attacks in the Red Sea right now that are threatening international maritime trade and regional security. We're supporting the United States and the United Kingdom efforts to disrupt, degrade and deter them. I know you don't want any of those things, but that's—

Paul Scarr

If he could withdraw that remark. I also have a point of order: the continual interjections to Senator Farrell's contribution. You've repeatedly called a number of senators to order. I think it's getting beyond a joke.

Marielle Smith

Senator Shoebridge, you've been requested to withdraw your remark. I did not hear it, but I'm inviting you to withdraw, please.

David Shoebridge

Is that my comment that he's a lapdog of the United States?

Marielle Smith

Senator Shoebridge, it is not appropriate to repeat the remark.

David Shoebridge

For the assistance of debate, I will withdraw the remark.

Marielle Smith

I will return the call to Senator Farrell, but I do ask that senators treat this debate respectfully. I appreciate that it is important to many people in this chamber. Senator Steele-John was heard in silence. I ask you to allow Senator Farrell to continue his remarks.

Don Farrell

We're working with our partners to manage risk to avoid regional escalation of the issue. I said before that we don't have partners in this effort. The Greens continue to be interested not in a unified community and a pathway to peace. Israelis deserve better, Palestinians deserve better, and the Australian people deserve better.

Simon Birmingham

We live in a world, tragically, where there is immense suffering. Over the last year tens of thousands of people have lost their lives in Myanmar, Ukraine, Sudan and, of course, many other conflicts around the world, including in the Middle East. But all we get from the Greens are one-sided motions focusing on one country and one conflict. That's the approach that comes from those opposite.

This, again, is a one-sided motion which ignores the cause of the current war in Gaza. There was no war in Gaza on 6 October, and there were no Israeli troops in Gaza on 6 October. The Greens motion fails to even mention Hamas, who on 7 October undertook the largest killing of Jews on a single day since the Holocaust. They seem to want to wipe that from history. The motion fails to mention those atrocities. It fails to mention that Hamas continues to hold hostages taken on 7 October, who have been held hostage now for 123 days. It ignores the fact that Hamas—its leaders, its operatives, its supporters in Hezbollah, its supporters among Houthi rebels and support coming from Iran and elsewhere—continue to call for a repeat of the 7 October attack, for Israel to be destroyed and for their aspiration of what would amount to genocide of the Jewish people. The reality is no nation could or would live with the ongoing threat that is posed to its citizens by Hamas. No nation would live with that threat on its doorstep having lived through the horrors and terror that occurred on 7 October.

Is the tragic loss of life in Gaza something we should all grieve and wish to see come to an end? Of course, it is. Is the tragic loss of life that occurred in Israel something we should all grieve and wish never to be repeated? Of course. That's just as we should wish the tragic loss of life in Myanmar, Ukraine, Sudan and everywhere else in conflict around the world to come to an end. But posturing motions from the Australian Greens in the Australian Senate that are one-sided, singularly focused and calling for a ceasefire without consideration of the consequences will do nothing to actually prevent a repeat of tragic deaths in these circumstances around the world.

The best ceasefire that could occur is not what the Greens call for, which is one that would enable Hamas to remain in leadership in Gaza and would enable Hamas to re-arm, regroup and fulfil their publicly stated aspiration to repeat the horrors of 7 October. An appropriate ceasefire would be one which called for Hamas to disarm and be disabled, for its leadership to surrender, for hostages to be released and for the vast tunnel network that is estimated to be bigger than the New York subway system, built under hospitals, schools and public infrastructure right across Gaza, to be destroyed, giving the Palestinian people living in Gaza the chance to not be used as human shields by Hamas terrorists but actually have an opportunity for peace to be negotiated in their future lives.

The Greens motion is one-sided when it comes to the International Court of Justice interim ruling as well, which did recognise Israel's right to self-defence. It did acknowledge that Hamas initiated the war on 7 October and further found that Hamas has neither surrendered nor given any undertaking not to repeat the terrorist attack, and there is no obligation under international law for Israel to agree to a ceasefire given Hamas's actions. The coalition strongly opposes Australia supporting South Africa's case in the ICJ, which is as an unbalanced as the Greens are in their posture and position. This parliament should be reiterating the comments and commitments it made in its bipartisan motion in October last year unequivocally condemning the Hamas attacks on 7 October, standing clearly with Israel and their inherent right to defend themselves, calling for the immediate and unconditional release of hostages, supporting efforts to ensure humanitarian access into Gaza, calling for the protection of civilian lives and the observance of international law and condemning all forms of hate speech, in particular the rising antisemitism we have seen. That's not what we get from the Greens, but it is certainly what we stand for.

Katy Gallagher

I move:

That the question be now put.

Marielle Smith

The question is that the question be now put on the motion to suspend standing orders.

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ABSTAINED – Matters of Urgency — Middle East

James McGrath

The Senate will now consider the proposal from Senator McKim. Is consideration of the proposal supported?

More than the number of senators required by the standing orders having risen in their places—

With the concurrence of the Senate, the clerks will set the clock in line with the informal arrangements made by the whips.

Jordon Steele-John

At the request of Senator McKim, I move:

That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:

The Australian government must publicly support, and formally intervene in, South Africa's genocide case at the International Court of Justice.

Australia must voice its support for South Africa's genocide case against the State of Israel, which is currently being considered by the International Criminal Court. South Africa's case brings together compelling evidence that the State of Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians right now in Gaza.

On 25 January, the ICJ made a historic interim ruling. They decided that, based on the evidence presented by the nation of South Africa, the State of Israel is to refrain from acts contravening the genocide convention. It has been ordered to prevent and to punish direct incitement of genocide towards Palestinians, and it is to take all measures to ensure people in Gaza can access humanitarian assistance. The court has sent a clear message: it is the court's expectation that the world will not sit in silence as the State of Israel continues its ruthless military campaign against Palestinians.

Even after the UN made clear that the court's ruling must be considered binding, the Albanese government has failed to take decisive action. The Albanese government's response so far has been completely inadequate. As a signatory to the UN's genocide convention, Australia has an obligation to take measures to prevent and punish the crime of genocide. And the Albanese government has so far failed to take action that is appropriate to the scale of the devastation that we are witnessing. Instead of calling for an end to the genocide, instead of calling for an end to the war crimes, the crimes against humanity and the destruction which rains down daily upon the people of Gaza, the Australian government has cut aid funding to the very organisations trying to keep people alive while continuing to supply resources and give support to the IDF forces as they carry out these atrocities. Shame!

The Greens are imploring the Australian government to send a strong message that these war crimes are unacceptable to the Australian community. We have seen thousands joining rallies and picket lines across the country. They are united in their calls. It is time for the Australian government to publicly support South Africa's case in the ICJ. The Australian government must make its position clear in support of South Africa now, as we enter this substantive stage of consideration by the court. The community expects that the Australian government will formally intervene, and the Australian Greens will continue to place pressure upon the Albanese government to ensure that they do just that. The time for sitting by in silence is over. We must hear the voices of the Palestinian people. We must answer their cry for justice. We must take tangible action to ensure that crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes are punished under international law.

Claire Chandler

I rise to speak on this urgency motion moved by the Greens. We are all extremely troubled by the ongoing loss of life in Gaza caused by Hamas. We all want the conflict to end as soon as possible. But once again we see the Greens come into this chamber with a motion that completely ignores the fact that the Hamas terrorists can end the conflict in Gaza today. They could have ended this conflict on any day during the last four months by surrendering and by releasing the hostages who they have now held in cruel and inhumane conditions for more than 120 days.

Of course, this motion also doesn't mention that the only reason there is an armed conflict in Gaza right now is that Hamas terrorists carried out one of the most barbaric, deliberate mass murders the modern world has ever witnessed. Not only did they murder in cold blood more than 1,200 Israelis and take hundreds of hostages; they then promised to carry out such attacks again and again as soon as they were able. Hamas have stated genocidal intent to wipe Israel from the face of the map. They aim to kill as many Israeli Jews as they can, and they openly celebrate when they are able to do so. They have hidden themselves and the hostages they've taken in a tunnel network that they have spent 15 years building, with the specific intent of placing the civilians of Gaza in danger. That is the context in which Israel are attempting to rescue their citizens and destroy the terrorist group Hamas, and it's the context which, sadly, the Greens choose to ignore once again.

Members of the Senate are, of course, entitled to express a view about Israel's attempt to rescue its people and destroy a terrorist group which murdered 1,200 of its people. But what members of parliament should not be doing is misusing the word 'genocide' in a way which directly parrots the propaganda of Hamas and their funders in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nor should governments, including the Australian government, be misusing that word, as this motion calls for the government to do.

The Albanese government should have been faster and clearer in providing Australia's response to this claim and making clear that, along with the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and other like-minded partners, we do not believe that Israel is committing genocide and we do not believe that South Africa's application to the ICJ is appropriate. Israel has an inherent right to self-defence, which was recognised in the ICJ ruling. Israel is in an incredibly difficult position of conducting a defensive war to remove Hamas from a position of power and influence and as a terrorist threat in the region. Hamas, incidentally, have repeatedly refused not only to surrender but even to accept a ceasefire which would see hostages released and further aid able to be safely provided to civilians. The only way the lives of civilians in both Gaza and Israel can be protected is to remove Hamas from a position where they deliberately use Palestinians in Gaza as human shields and place them in greater danger and jeopardy.

It is deeply troubling to have propaganda being spread in our country that seeks to save Hamas, keep them in power and keep the civilians of Gaza under this oppressive, misogynistic, murderous rule of a terrorist regime. We want to see civilians protected and terrorism defeated. Hamas, on the other hand, wants to see civilians on both sides killed, and they have done and continue to do everything in their power to make that happen. Any effort which ignores the need for Hamas to be removed from power is not a serious proposal for peace; it is a proposal for ongoing violence against Jews, women and the innocent civilians of Gaza.

Raff Ciccone

I want to make a short remark with respect to the urgency motion before the Senate this afternoon. The government won't be supporting this motion that has been brought forward by the Australian Greens regarding the International Court of Justice matter brought by South Africa concerning the State of Israel. We do so because Australia is not a party to the matter that South Africa has brought to the International Court of Justice. Indeed, the ICJ has not invited interventions from other states, a point that sometimes has been missed in some of the commentary of late.

This motion shows, with the greatest respect, sheer ignorance to the reality of what is actually before us today. Australia respects the independence of the International Court of Justice. We respect the role that it plays in the international legal system and the maintenance of an international rules based order. It's with this respect that it also follows that we also expect every single state around the world will act in accordance with the rulings of the court. I note in particular that the court has already made a ruling on provisional matters in the matter, a ruling that constitutes merely an interim decision, not a final determination.

I stood here in October of last year to condemn without qualification the horrific terrorist attacks that were committed by Hamas against many people in the State of Israel on 7 October. What happened on that day will always be remembered in the hearts of many with great sorrow. Since that time, the Australian government's position has been unequivocal and consistent. There is no justification for terrorism. There can be no excuse for what happened on that day. Like any other state, the State of Israel has a right to defend itself, and, in doing so, like any state, it must have regard for international law.

Whilst not a party to the matter brought by South Africa to the ICJ, that does not mean that Australia isn't continuing to work for peace in the region. Indeed, although not a central player in the Middle East, we are a respected voice, and with that voice we are able to advocate, and have said so many times, for sustained peace. Throughout this conflict the Australian government has been consistent in calling for civilians to be protected. We have consistently called for more humanitarian aid into Gaza and unimpeded passage for relief for those in great need. We've also used our voice to advocate for the immediate release of hostages, the delivery of humanitarian assistance, respect for international humanitarian law, caution at the prospect of regional escalation, and a sustainable ceasefire—a ceasefire which cannot be one sided.

As Australians, we mourn the loss of innocent life in all conflict and pursue enduring peace in the region. That is our shared goal. Therefore it remains our view that such peace can only be achieved through a two-state solution where security and dignity for both parties is guaranteed.

Lidia Thorpe

I stand before you today to advocate for a cause that resonates with our shared values of justice, compassion and human rights. I support the motion that the Australian government must publicly support and formally intervene in South Africa's genocide case at the International Court of Justice. Our commitment to truth demands that we confront injustice wherever it occurs, regardless of borders or political affiliations.

The ongoing conflict in Gaza has resulted in untold suffering and loss of life, particularly amongst innocent civilians, including women and children. In a historic legally binding ruling, the ICJ declared that it is highly likely that genocide is occurring in Gaza and that Israel is not doing enough to prevent it. By endorsing South Africa's efforts to hold Israel accountable at the ICJ, we send a powerful message that Australia stands on the side of justice and humanity. Our support is not just a matter of policy. It's a reflection of our values and commitment to the promotion of peace and justice in the world.

As a signatory to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, we cannot turn a blind eye to such horrendous violations of human rights and crimes against humanity. Let's not ignore our duty to speak against inhumane cruelty. Let's stand in solidarity with those who are oppressed and marginalised, wherever they may be, so that it actually never happens again anywhere, to anyone. Thank you.

Long debate text truncated.

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ABSTAINED – Business — Rearrangement

Penny Wong

by leave—I move:

That on Tuesday, 5 December 2023—

(a) the hours of meeting be 9.30 am till adjournment;

(b) the routine of business from 9.30 am till 1.30 pm be as follows:

(i) consideration of the Infrastructure Australia Amendment (Independent Review) Bill 2023, with time allotted for the remaining stages as follows:

(A) second reading—1 hour, and

(B) questions on all remaining stages put at 11.30 am;

(ii) government business only,

(iii) at midday, Nature Repair Market Bill 2023 and a related bill, and

(iv) government business only;

(c) the routine of business from not later than 5.30 pm be government business only;

(d) the questions be put on the Nature Repair Market Bill 2023 and a related bill, as follows:

(i) at 6.30 pm—second reading, and

(ii) at 8.30 pm—all remaining stages;

(e) after consideration of the Nature Repair Market Bill 2023 and a related bill has concluded, or at 8.30 pm, whichever is earlier, the questions on all remaining stages of the following bills be put:

(i) Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee Bill 2023,

(ii) Public Health (Tobacco and Other Products) Bill 2023

Public Health (Tobacco and Other Products) (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2023,

(iii) Treasury Laws Amendment (Making Multinationals Pay Their Fair Share—Integrity and Transparency) Bill 2023;

(f) paragraphs (b), (d) and (e) operate as a limitation of debate under standing order 142;

(g) divisions may take place after 6.30 pm; and

(h) the Senate adjourn without debate after consideration of the bills has concluded.

Simon Birmingham

Firstly, I withdraw the motion that I had moved that was before the Senate and due for consideration again at 6.15. Secondly, I move an amendment to Senator Wong's motion:

Omit paragraph (d).

Sue Lines

The question is that the amendment as moved by Senator Birmingham be agreed to.

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ABSTAINED – Matters of Urgency — Immigration Detention

Glenn Sterle

Senator Paterson has submitted a proposal under standing order 75 today. It is shown at item 13 on today's Order of Business. Is consideration of the proposal supported?

More than the number of senators required by the standing orders having risen in their places—

With the concurrence of the Senate, the clerks will set the clock—

Honourable senators interjecting—

Order! Senators, if you're not involved can you take it outside, please, or lower it to a dull roar? The clerks will set the clock in line with the informal arrangements made by the whips.

James Paterson

I move:

That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:

The Albanese Government's multiple failures to protect Australia and keep Australians safe, including their abandonment of Operation Sovereign Borders, failure to prevent an unauthorised maritime arrival reaching Australia's coastline, failure to pre-emptively respond to the High Court's decision on indefinite detention, and inability to combat growing antisemitism and violence in our community.

Well, when I submitted this matter of public urgency—

Hon. Senators

Honourable senators interjecting—

Glenn Sterle

Senators, I've already asked that, if senators aren't involved, they please take it outside. That's twice.

James Paterson

When I submitted this matter of public urgency, I did not realise just how timely it would be, because, a little bit more than two hours ago, the High Court blew a hole in the Albanese government's final excuse for their inaction to protect the Australian community.

Three weeks ago, when the High Court first ordered that the applicant in the case, NZYQ, needed to be released into the community because he was being indefinitely detained, I called on the Albanese government to introduce a preventive or continuing detention order regime. I said they could pick up what was in the high-risk terrorist offenders regime. I said they could adapt it and apply it to the highest-risk offenders in this cohort of, now, 141 people who've been released into the community.

The Albanese Government first said we couldn't act at all—'And, anyway, don't worry; we're only releasing one person.' Well, 140 people later, they have acted, but only partially and only under pressure from the opposition. What they did not do, and what they should have done—and what we now know they could have done from 9 November—was to have introduced a preventive detention regime to protect the community, because the High Court has given a green light to the proposal that the coalition has been talking about now for three weeks.

They said in their judgement, at paragraph 72, in relation to their order to release the plaintiff:

Nor would grant of that relief prevent detention of the plaintiff on some other applicable statutory basis, such as under a law providing for preventive detention of a child sex offender who presents an unacceptable risk of reoffending if released from custody.

This is exactly what we called on the Albanese government to do, and this is exactly what they said they could not do until they had the benefit of the High Court reasons. We now know they could have done that. We now know that these people did not need to be released into the community, that they in fact could have been redetained in custody on the application of the government to a court. The community could have been protected from that danger and fear which have been instilled in them when child sex offenders, rapists, murderers, contract killers and others have been released into the community.

The good news is that it's not too late. The government can now finally act, because it need not wait any longer. I presume that the government already has drafted legislation ready to go. I assume they won't make the same mistake they did three weeks ago in not being ready, and I hope this legislation can be introduced into the House of Representatives tomorrow morning. I am certain that the coalition would provide bipartisan support for the swift passage of a preventive detention regime. I think we could get it done this week; I think it could pass the House, the Senate and receive royal assent before the weekend. The government could begin bringing actions in the court immediately to take at least the highest-risk offenders in this cohort off the streets immediately so that they no longer pose a danger to the community.

This is a very important test for the Albanese government. We know they got it very badly wrong three weeks ago and we know that the home affairs minister and the immigration minister weren't ready. They have been contradicting each other in the media for weeks as to why they weren't ready, but we know they weren't ready. I really hope they don't make that same mistake again—I hope they're ready to act, because the community deserves protection. It is not good enough to simply put an electronic-monitoring bracelet and a curfew on some of these offenders but otherwise allow them out into the community. These are people who were in immigration detention for a good reason and they'd had their visas cancelled for a good reason. They had their visas cancelled because they broke the law or violated the character provisions of the Migration Act, and they had no lawful visa to be in this country. The only reason they weren't deported is because the crimes they committed were so heinous that no country in the world would take them.

That's exactly the definition of someone who shouldn't be free to move about our community, and this is the test for the Albanese government now. I hope, for the sake of the Australian community, that they don't fail this test again. I hope that tomorrow they're ready and able to introduce this legislation to act to protect the community. If they are, I am sure we will be able to facilitate the passage of this legislation on a bipartisan basis. It would be untenable for the parliament to rise before the end of the year and, over summer, expose the community to the risk that one of those serious offenders commits another crime against another Australian and we weren't ready to protect them.

Marielle Smith

I also rise to speak on this motion. What is becoming increasingly clear in this chamber, and in the other place, is that there is no issue too big or too small for Mr Dutton and his opposition to politicise. If you read out the words of this motion before us, it reads like a shopping list of things the opposition has sought to politicise: conflict in the Middle East and border security. These are pretty transparent attempts to seek political advantage using the same old playbook of Liberal parties past.

We can all remember the impact of the politicisation of these issues by previous governments. Indeed, I reckon some people in this place were probably motivated to run for parliament because of the impact of the politicisation of some of these issues under previous governments—and under the Howard government. We can all remember the impact of those on our national cohesion and the impact of those decisions on the sense of safety and security that members of our community felt. Just as it was true then, it is true now: talking tough on national security doesn't actually make our nation more secure. Stoking fear and division does not make us stronger—in fact, it can make us weaker. Hacking at the seams of social cohesion is a dangerous business because the way we talk about national security matters and the way we talk about national security can determine our nation's security. That's a sentiment that not just I hold. I am sure that is a sentiment that would be backed in by national security experts and backed in by those working in this space every day.

We have a choice in how we talk about these matters. We have a clear choice about where we draw the line between policy debate and politicisation. The first should absolutely be rigorous, but there needs to be caution in the use of the other. Of course it is not just how we talk about things; it's what we say—it's adherence to facts. Facts matter too. I implore all in this place and the other place if they're not going to strip the fearmongering from their rhetoric to at least make sure that their rhetoric is based and underlined in truth, because we have seen examples of jumping the gun in the press and elsewhere and weighing in on events without having the facts.

The opposition leader is attempting to steer our country down a path using a playbook that we have seen before. He's doing so without any degree of self-reflection on his own legacy: a legacy characterised by a broken migration system—they're not my words; they're the words of the independent comprehensive review—a legacy that talked tough on borders whilst cutting compliance officers at the same time and, indeed, what we're dealing with now in this chamber and the other chamber.

The opposition leader isn't prepared to engage in this legacy. Indeed, all he wants to do is play politics on the issues he can grab. If he's not saying no to everything and not opposing everything we as a government put up, he's seeking a political advantage, no matter the cost. There's division, fear and inflaming tensions when what our country needs is clear and calm leadership. These are political plays we have seen before. It is the playbook from the Liberal Party's past.

Our government is working hard every day to make Australians more secure. We welcome a rigorous policy debate on these issues. They're important and they matter to the security of Australians, but the rigour in that policy debate must actually be accompanied by caution in the political discourse that surrounds it because how we talk about these issues matters and how we talk about our national security has the potential to impact and determine our national security. It does so through its impact on social cohesion and it does so through its impact on communities within Australia, especially communities at the moment who are feeling a lot of hurt and a lot of pain. I am sure some are feeling that the political discourse is not doing anything to improve our social cohesion. If we don't have social cohesion, we don't have a secure nation. How we talk about it matters.

Nick McKim

It's very timely that the High Court has this afternoon released its reasons for its recent judgement that rendered indefinite immigration detention unlawful in Australia. It is a very timely release of reasons. It is critical that the entirety of this parliament and the entirety of the Australian media use the opportunity presented to them by the High Court today to take a deep breath, to calm down, to take a beat and to soberly reflect on what the High Court has published. The parliament as a whole needs to stop panicking, it needs to reflect on these High Court reasons in detail and it needs to reject the base politics of fear and division. Opposition leader Peter Dutton needs to stop confecting an emergency and a crisis, and the Labor Party needs to end its panicked and xenophobic response to Mr Dutton's confected emergency. Labor needs to stop letting Mr Dutton back-seat drive its legislative agenda.

Since the original High Court judgement, we have had two attempts at legislating by the Labor Party, one that was heavily amended before it shamefully passed through this parliament a week and a half ago. Another one is caught in limbo between the House and the Senate because the government is completely paralysed in fear of Mr Dutton. We have had about half a dozen different positions from the Liberals. This is no way to legislate. It is no way to run a parliament, and it is refugees who are paying the price.

Parliament needs to calmly consider the ramifications of this decision. Parliament needs to stop trying to undermine the High Court, stop trying to work its way around the High Court decision and this parliament needs to start respecting the rule of law. To Senator Paterson—the mover of this motion, the self-styled classical liberal—I must have missed the bit in John Stuart Mills's body of work that calls for arbitrary indefinite detention. I wonder if the words 'on liberty' mean anything to Senator Paterson and his colleagues—that, of course, being the title of one of Mills's best known— (Time expired)

Long debate text truncated.

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ABSTAINED – Bills — Water Amendment (Restoring Our Rivers) Bill 2023; Second Reading

David Pocock

by leave—President, could you please note my support for (b) on the sheet of amendments just moved by Senator Davey?

Sue Lines

Thank you, Senator Pocock.

Malcolm Roberts

I move Pauline Hanson's One Nation amendment on sheet No. 2159:

At the end of the motion, add ", but the Senate:

(a) notes:

(i) that water recovered by the South East Flows Restoration Project is included in the South Australian Government's water accounting as a sustainable diversion limit adjustment, and

(ii) the figure used is not accurately measured for surface water and aquifer flow into the Coorong and Lake Albert; and

(b) calls on the Minister for the Environment and Water to ensure the surface water and aquifer flow from this project is measured and accounted for accurately".

Sue Lines

The question is that the second reading amendment as moved by Senator Roberts be agreed to.

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ABSTAINED – Bills — Disability Services and Inclusion Bill 2023, Disability Services and Inclusion (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2023; in Committee

Jordon Steele-John

First of all I would like to speak to amendment number (1) on sheet 2210. This amendment seeks to do something pretty simple—that is, to update the title of the bill so that it actually reflects the content and purpose of this bill. As I outlined to the chamber in my second reading speech, this bill is titled the Disability Services and Inclusion Bill—'and Inclusion'. This was an active decision by the minister to include such a piece of language in the title of the bill and to go further in the principles and objectives of the bill to outline that the purpose of the legislation is to advance the social and economic inclusion of disabled people.

I say this with all seriousness, having read an analysed the bill carefully: this piece of legislation does not achieve those ends. An inclusive society for disabled people will only be achieved when segregation is removed from that society. It will only be achieved when the services funded by the Commonwealth are explicitly inclusive in nature. It will only be achieved when the services which we rely on, the programs which we rely on as disabled people, are fully, actively and comprehensively monitored and subjected to proper processes which enable violations of code of conduct to which those programs may be subject—let's call a spade a spade. Sometimes, when government talks about the violation of a code of conduct, it can seem very stale and sterile when it is actually something visceral and real for a human being. The code of conduct to which these services and programs will be subjected will call upon providers and recipients of funds, to summarise, to prevent the person receiving the services being subjected to violence, abuse, exploitation or neglect—very, very serious.

These services will be extended to a significant portion of the Australian disability community. Over three million Australians will be eligible to access these services—three million people from a community which we all should now be very clear is systemically subjected to violence, abuse, exploitation and neglect. There is a real need for good, clear oversight that is co-designed with disabled people and a clear process which enables disabled people to complain and to seek recompense when they have their rights violated by a program funded by the Commonwealth. And yet this bill makes no provision for such a mechanism. This doesn't make any sense.

Let's just engage in a little bit of actual logical thought for a moment. The National Disability Insurance Scheme covers between 610,000 and 630,000 disabled people. Now, every single person that provides a service or support under the National Disability Insurance Scheme is required to comply with the National Disability Insurance Scheme Code of Conduct. Violations of that code of conduct—if you have your rights violated, if you are abused—enable you as a disabled person to take that complaint or objection to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. Senator Hughes understands this process very well. Senator Cadell understands this process very well. I'm sure, as the former Chief Minister of the ACT, Senator Gallagher understands the vital importance of the quality and safeguards commission's role in the oversight of the NDIS. And yet, in this legislation, which proposes to provide services to all those disabled people who are not subject to the NDIS—over three million people—there is no such commission created by the government in this act. Instead it is the contention of the government that violations of the code of conduct shall be investigated. The code of conduct shall be upheld thanks to a team within the Department of Social Services—within DSS.

In one case we have over 600,000 people covered by a dedicated commission. For all other disabled people—over three million people—there's no dedicated commission, just a couple of folks within DSS. This makes no sense at all, will not advance inclusion and places disabled people at risk, so I ask the question: why is the government proceeding with this legislation at this time? The government's response I'm sure is, 'Well, senator, there is a need to advance this legislation to enable us to respond to the royal commission,' as though they'd like to be given a medal for the speed at which they have responded to the royal commission. In fact all they've done is establish a task force as the direct result of the structural confusion that exists within this government because of the absence of a disability minister. Nobody can decide whose job it is to champion the rights of disabled people and implement these legislative reforms, so they've set up a task force.

Let's accept that strange premise for a moment. Let's say they do need this legislation to respond to the royal commission. The government set out a time frame for its response to the royal commission. The government's time frame is to provide that response in the first half of next year. Having identified this massive barrier in oversight, this complete absence of a mechanism which would ensure the rights of disabled people are upheld and our abuse, if we are subject to it, is actually investigated and perpetrators held to account, why not hold this legislation and continue in a process of codesign and then move forward with it as part of the broader package to implement the recommendations of the royal commission at the beginning of next year?

The last reason I would flag as to why the word 'inclusion' should be removed from the title of this bill is that it doesn't actually take proactive steps to ensure the inclusion of disabled people. This legislation is happy and enables the continuation of funding and services, which is exclusionary. It doesn't say it in the terms that the old act used, it doesn't explicitly say it in the terms the current act uses, but it does not proactively prevent the Commonwealth funding exclusive and exclusionary programs. In the face of the call of history to finally decide that the direction of travel of the Australian government is towards inclusion having been presented with the opportunity to join with the disability community and the Greens in the work of the collective liberation of disabled people, this government has decided to rush through a piece of legislation which fails to meet the very standard for success that it sets for itself. This is not good enough.

The very least this chamber could do in the absence of the desire of the government to be honest and transparent with the Australian people as to the effect of this bill is to remove the word 'inclusion' from the title of the bill. It's a word with such force and meaning, and it should only be applied to a piece of legislation which actually advances us toward that goal. This legislation does not, and therefore I urge the chamber to join with the Greens in supporting this amendment.

Claire Chandler

Before I call the minister, to clarify, Senator Steele-John, are you moving that amendment now?

Jordon Steele-John

Yes, why not? I move Greens amendment (1) on sheet 2210:

(1) Clause 1, page 1 (line 7), omit "and Inclusion".

Katy Gallagher

The government won't be supporting this amendment. I acknowledge the contribution made by Senator Steele-John and the views that he has outlined to the chamber, but the government doesn't accept the arguments that he's putting. I would say this bill hasn't been rushed. There have been two significant rounds of consultation. The first one led to the drafting of the bill. Subsequent to that, there was another comprehensive round of consultations and then, of course, a Senate committee process. So that's a response to those criticisms. I would also say I accept the view that Senator Steele-John has put about the use of the word 'inclusive'. I would say that there is strong support from the disability community—I'm not arguing that there aren't those that might support your position, Senator Steele-John—who have commended the focus on inclusion in the drafting and development of this bill. For those reasons, we think it's important to retain those and, as such, will be opposing the Greens' amendment.

Anne Ruston

The opposition will support the government's position on this particular amendment, but I would like to acknowledge the intent behind the amendment that's been put forward by Senator Steele-John, because the reality is that simply changing the name of something doesn't actually change the outcomes that are delivered by it. We would say to the government that, if you are intending to change the name and include the word 'inclusion', it does provide a level of responsibility for you to actually follow through and improve the inclusiveness of the way that the government operates in terms of its interface with the disability sector for the provision of services to the sector going forward.

We know from a number of other initiatives by the government so far that they seem to think that changing a name somehow is going to change the outcome, and changing the name signals to the electorate that they are intending to do so. I can't think of better example of that than urgent care clinics. Simply changing the name of a practice to an urgent care clinic, when nothing else changes, does not deliver any beneficial outcome to the Australian public. So I would say to the government that we'll be watching very closely as this bill comes into effect, because the responsibility of government in relation to disability goes far beyond the responsibility for the NDIS and the delivery of that scheme. A bipartisan approach was offered to the NDIS, and the coalition remains very committed to the delivery of the outcomes of the NDIS, but that does not mean that government can walk away from its broader responsibility to make sure that people who live with disability are being supported even if they are not part of the NDIS.

We will not be supporting this amendment, but we will certainly expect the government to not just use and include the word 'inclusion' in the bill. We will expect them to act on inclusion if they really think that this bill is going to deliver what its title says it will.

Claire Chandler

The question is that amendment (1) on sheet 2210 be agreed to.

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