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$1.4 billion in cuts


Following on from the contribution of Senator Wong, I think it is really important that people who are not familiar with the somewhat arcane processes employed here in the Senate understand what is actually happening. What is happening here is that we have two pieces of legislation which in fact we have not seen; we are not aware of what is in the legislation. We have not had the opportunity to examine and interrogate that legislation. It is now being rushed through the Senate. The hours motion says that it will be debated through until midnight tonight, midnight tomorrow night and then in an open-ended debate on Friday.

To those people who may be listening and wondering what is unusual about that, the whole point of this chamber is for us to be given the opportunity to interrogate the details of specific legislation through a committee process. For those people who are not familiar with that, we have legislation presented through a committee process, we take evidence, we take submissions and we look for unintended consequences. We look to amend the legislation through that process so that what is ultimately passed through the Senate, even if it is not supported, at least has the scrutiny that it needs to avoid unintended consequences through its passage. None of that is going to happen right now. We have got legislation which will be railroaded through this parliament, in a deal struck behind closed doors, which no-one has had the opportunity to see, let alone examine, interrogate and give it the due scrutiny it deserves.


Again, people might say, 'Well, how is that possible—the house of review, the Senate, not being given the opportunity to look at legislation in the way that this House was designed to do?' It happens when the government gets together with members of the crossbench—with One Nation, with the Nick Xenophon Team and other crossbenchers—and says, 'Let's stitch this thing up. Let's get it through this week so that we can avoid the attacks and criticism that will come as a result of this legislation getting the due scrutiny it needs.'

We know that one of those pieces of legislation involves significant cuts to the most vulnerable Australians. We know that, because that is what the government's savings measure entails. We know that what we are talking about here are cuts to family tax payments and cuts to households that are some of the poorest, most vulnerable households in the country. We are talking about cuts to people at the moment who cannot afford to pay their rent, who cannot afford to put food on the table, and yet we have got this government, with One Nation and with the Nick Xenophon Team, getting together to strike a deal to say, 'Let's ram this thing through before we get too much heat on us, because we know that these are unpopular, unfair cuts and we need to get them through this parliament as quickly as we can.'

I say to the crossbench, and I say, firstly, to One Nation, the party that says to the Australian community: 'We're the party that represents battlers. We look after the vulnerable, the marginalised. We look after the people who are not being looked after by the major parties.' Yet, what we see is One Nation joining with the Liberal Party more than almost any other member of parliament in the Senate. One Nation has fast become the far-right faction of the Liberal Party. It does not look after battlers; it looks after its mates at the big end of town. That is what One Nation is doing right now—showing the Australian community its true colours: 'We don't look after battlers; what we are doing are secret deals with the coalition to screw battlers, to do them over.'

Of course how many lectures have we had from Nick Xenophon and his colleagues about due process? How many lectures have we had from the Xenophon team saying to us, 'We haven't been given time. There's no Senate committee process'? Yet Senator Xenophon is joining with the coalition to ram this legislation through the parliament.

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