All changes made to the description and title of this division.

View division | Edit description

Change Division
senate vote 2018-06-27#2

Edited by mackay

on 2018-07-20 11:47:43


  • Bills — National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017, Foreign Influence Transparency Scheme Bill 2017; First Reading
  • National Security Legislation Amendment (Espionage and Foreign Interference) Bill 2017 and another - First Reading - Speed things along


  • <p class="speaker">Simon Birmingham</p>
  • <p>I seek leave to move a motion to exempt these bills from the bills cut-off order.</p>
  • <p>Leave not granted.</p>
  • The majority voted in favour of a [motion](
  • > *That so much of the [standing orders]( be suspended as would prevent the consideration and passage of these bills during this period of sittings.*
  • In other words, they voted in favour of speeding up the consideration of these bills.
  • <p>I move:</p>
  • <p class="italic">That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the consideration and passage of these bills during this period of sittings.</p>
  • <p>I table a statement of reasons justifying the need for these bills to be considered during these sittings.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Nick McKim</p>
  • <p>I appreciate the minister tabling a statement of reasons as to why these bills need to be considered in these sittings. What I don't appreciate is the way that it has been dumped now on the Senate in such a way that the Australian Greens are forced into making a contribution on the motion before the chair without actually having had the opportunity to understand or even read the government's reasons for the unholy rush that the Senate finds itself engaged in at the moment.</p>
  • <p>To show good faith with this chamber, Minister, you should have got up then and made the arguments on your feet so that we could understand them. But, no, here we are, getting stampeded through again, with you showing a distinct lack of courtesy to this Senate. It's not good enough to just whack a bit of paper down on the table and expect the debate to be fully informed. The debate isn't fully informed, Minister, because I haven't had a chance and none of my colleagues in the Greens or on the crossbench have had a chance to actually understand what your arguments are for insisting that these pieces of dangerous draconian legislation are rammed through the Senate this week in such an unholy rush.</p>
  • <p>I thought this was a debating chamber. I thought this was one of the supreme, if not the supreme, debating chambers in the county, if not the world, of Westminster parliaments. But that's not the way the minister has just treated this chamber now. He has come in and whacked a bit of paper down on the table, and he is expecting this debate to be fully informed. I want to put on the record that we are unable to rebut the minister's arguments because the minister didn't have the courtesy to get up in the five minutes allotted to him in this process and actually make the arguments as part of the debate.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Andrew Bartlett</p>
  • <p>Obviously, the numbers are here for this to go through anyway so I don't wish to speak purely to try and make debating points, but I do want to put things on the record. For those who are following this issue, as hopefully the Australian public or those that follow the issues that come before the parliament are aware, the legislation that is being put forward already this morning is of enormous significance to the rights of every person who resides in Australia, not just citizens but everybody else.</p>
  • <p>The matter immediately before us is the government seeking leave to move to exempt these bills from the cut-off order. It is worth emphasising why the cut-off order is in place. The cut-off order is something that goes back&#8212;if my memory serves me correctly&#8212;to the 1980s. It was originally proposed by former Queensland colleague&#8212;a predecessor of mine&#8212;Senator Michael Macklin, because of the problematic practice, which frequently occurred, of legislation being tabled and immediately debated before the chamber had a chance to properly scrutinise it.</p>
  • <p>As we have already heard, this issue has been scrutinised by a committee that excludes most of the parties in this Senate, except for the two largest ones. So the principle that has been in place since the 1980s&#8212;it has been reformed a bit over time, including by, I think, WA Greens senators&#8212;is that it should only be by explicit and informed decision of the Senate that we agree to exempt legislation from what is a standing order. It is a standing order that legislation should not be introduced and considered within the same week. That is for the very simple reason that it is our job to make sure that we are properly informed when we make decisions about whether or not the legislation we pass is adequate and does not have unintended consequences.</p>
  • <p>Forget about the ideological differences here and the philosophical differences about what's right and what's wrong, what needs to happen and what doesn't need to happen. We need to make sure that we don't include things in the legislation that are done by mistake. That has happened time and time again. The vast majority of times that it has happened have been in precisely this situation, when, for political reasons&#8212;and let's not kid ourselves; this rush is totally for political reasons&#8212;things are put in legislation when even the people who want them in there have not had the chance to properly scrutinise what the actual consequences of those words will be. That's bad with regard to any piece of legislation&#8212;it's the law of the land; it affects the entire community&#8212;but, when we're talking about legislation that affects people's basic liberties on such a fundamental level, then it is incumbent upon us to make sure that we properly scrutinise what it is we are doing.</p>
  • <p>Let's not forget, when we are talking about legislation, that it is not blind. There are sections of the community&#8212;Indigenous Australians, Muslim Australians and others&#8212;who are far more likely to fall foul of legislation that is bent and interpreted to meet the preconceptions, structural prejudices and racism of our legal system. We see that time and time again. The reasons for urgency that the minister tabled are only just now being distributed around the chamber. Had it not been for the decision to not just wave this through, if the Senate had done what has, unfortunately, become common practice and just waved it through and said, 'Yes, sure, exempt this legislation from the cut-off,' had it not been for the action of the Greens in denying leave and wanting this to actually be debated, we wouldn't have even known what the reasons were. Maybe Labor has already seen these reasons. I don't know. I suspect not. But the Senate itself wouldn't have even known what the reasons were for urgency. If we look at the reasons for urgency, the document is only that long. It's one paragraph plus an extra sentence. This legislation is required urgently in response to the 'unprecedented threat of espionage and foreign interference'. Gee whiz, that's really detailed reasoning! This has happened time and time again in this area, in particular. Can we finally learn from our mistakes? <i>(Time expired)</i></p>
  • <p class="speaker">David Leyonhjelm</p>
  • <p>It's unfortunate that this debate has become a matter of the government versus the Greens. It is much broader than that. The issue currently before us is whether dealing with this legislation is urgent. The government asserts that it is urgent, and its statement of reasons&#8212;and thank you to the minister for circulating it&#8212;</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Janet Rice</p>
  • <p>Not urgently!</p>
  • <p class="speaker">David Leyonhjelm</p>
  • <p>Not urgently, quite so&#8212;simply an assertion that it is urgent. There is no reason why it is urgent. It doesn't say a national emergency or something bad is going to happen if these bills are not passed. Nothing bad is going to happen if these bills are not passed. We have had elections and by-elections before. Nothing will happen that hasn't happened before if these bills are not passed. There is simply no good reason why we can't debate these when we return in August, having had the opportunity of considering the final versions of the bills, amended according to the recommendations of the PJCIS, with more than 24 hours notice. There is no explanation for why we can't have sufficient time to consider the amended bills in this statement. It's just an assertion. There is no justification for this urgency.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Penny Wong</p>
  • <p>I rise on behalf of the opposition to make a few points. The first is to recognise the reason for standing order 111, which is to ensure that the chamber has the opportunity to consider legislation. I make the point that the limb of that standing order which requires, in these circumstances, the minister to move the motion he has would not have been activated, as I understand it, if this message had in fact been received last night. It is standing order 111(5)(c). So let's understand: if the message had come over last night, then the Greens and the crossbench wouldn't be in the position of making the contributions they are making.</p>
  • <p>The second point I'd make is that we do agree that the principle of consideration of legislation by the parliament is important. These are national security bills. They were introduced in December of last year. They have been through an extensive&#8212;extensive&#8212;consideration process before the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.</p>
  • <p>An honourable senator: A closed shop.</p>
  • <p>I take the interjection of 'closed shop'. Yes, that is correct. It is an intelligence committee, peopled by parties of government, that receives national security briefings and considers national security legislation. We do not resile from that, and there are very sound national interest reasons for that.</p>
  • <p>The next point I'd make is it is incorrect to suggest that there has not been public consideration of these bills. As a member of that committee I'm indebted to Senator McAllister, who's made sure I have in front of me the list of hearings that we engaged in on the two pieces of legislation&#8212;the espionage legislation and the interference legislation. Those hearings on those two pieces of legislation happened in January, February and March, and in January, February and June respectively. We received 51 submissions on the espionage legislation and 92 submissions on the FITS Bill.</p>
  • <p>I do acknowledge this, and I will say this again in the second reading debate: I think there have been problems with the process relating to this legislation. With respect, I think that they were poorly handled by the former Attorney-General, as has been demonstrated by the lengthy process of consideration; the number of public submissions that have been critical of the drafting of the legislation; and the extensive amendments that have been required as a consequence of the intelligence committee's recommendation and which the government, I acknowledge, has accepted, which we think is a good thing. So those are the circumstances in which the opposition will be supporting the government in its request for urgency in relation to these bills.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Rex Patrick</p>
  • <p>I rise to support the sentiment of the Greens and, indeed, the crossbench in stating that this is complex legislation. Whilst the legislation has been considered in great detail by that committee, the information that's flowed out from that has flowed to us only very, very recently. We are not permitted to participate in the PJCIS, and so no-one could argue that there has been any ability for us to read and digest the information in that time frame.</p>
  • <p>I take Senator Leyonhjelm's point about the minister not really explaining the urgency. Normally you have to ground a claim when you make it, and it doesn't do you any favours, Minister, in not doing so here today. I make the point also that last week in the chamber I faced a round of criticism for not allowing debate on another bill, which I would argue was much, much simpler. I had the Labor Party heckling me across the chamber. I had Senator Wong accusing me of being in bed with Senator Cormann. I think the words were, 'When Senator Cormann says jump, Senator Patrick says, "How high?"' I don't know why this doesn't translate into this particular debate.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Penny Wong</p>
  • <p>We're having a debate! You didn't even let us have a debate. We're having a debate&#8212;</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Scott Ryan</p>
  • <p>Senator Wong, you were heard in silence.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Penny Wong</p>
  • <p>What a hypocrite!</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Rex Patrick</p>
  • <p>Yes, 'hypocrite' is the word that springs to mind here, in that Senator Wong is seeking to restrict debate on this particular matter.</p>
  • <p>Last week what I saw happen was that the Labor Party stood outside this chamber and suggested that, on tax cuts, they would only support stage 1; they wouldn't support stage 2. The first thing they did when they walked into the chamber was move a motion to support stage 1 and stage 2. That left me relatively confused. What I then drew from that was that there was to be an extended debate, a filibustering of the whole process, and for that reason we agreed with the government that it was just a tactic. But I don't understand exactly what is happening here. We'd like to have quite a lengthy discussion on this. We would have liked to have dealt with the bills separately. That, of course, has been denied us by an agreement by two parties that have shared the love inside the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security but not the information.</p>
  • <p class='motion-notice motion-notice-truncated'>Long debate text truncated.</p>