One whole day in committee

OZ07Andrew Bartlett notes that the Government has used its Senate majority to stifle thorough examination and debate of the legislation it’s proposing over indigenous communities in the Northern Territory and over water management in the Murray-Darling Basin: both bills were introduced only this week, and they will be in Committee for only one day – today.

Many witnesses/experts/stakeholders were only informed yesterday that they would be required to give testimony today. But two witnesses who weren’t asked to appear were the authors of the Little Children Are Sacred report which the government used to justify its indigenous intervention under the emergency powers.

Rex Wild QC and Pat Anderson are going to the Senate and making themselves available for questioning despite not being invited – there is a lunch break in the Committee proceedings and Anderson and Wild will present themselves to interested Senators at that time. As Andrew says,

Given they were obviously available to give evidence, it is amazing that they weren’t invited to evidence to the formal Committee proceedings.

Bernice Balconey notes that the more we learn about the legislation for the indigenous emergency intervention plan, the more it smells of unredeemed racism, seeking to roll back every minor gain made by our indigenous people in the last half-century.

BALANCEThis sort of railroading of legislation, cynically bypassing full and proper review by the Upper House, is exactly why we need a Senate which balances the Lower House by not having a government party majority.

Crossposted



Categories: culture wars, indigenous, Politics

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4 replies

  1. What struck me was that the Inquiry Info Page lacked the usual phrase "The Committee invites written submissions which should be sent to:" or give a closing date.  It only said there would be a public hearing two days after the inquiry was advertised and gave contact details for further information.
    By only mentioning public hearings (and who can fly to Canberra at the drop of a hat), and not indicating submissions where possible, it seems that the gov was trying to avoid any embarrassment by getting public criticism (public hearings can be “managed” by the pollies.)
    Still, at least 70 (as of now) of us got submissions in: either rushed one-pagers or transmissions of related reports that had been prepared for slightly different purposes.  We ignored the lack of an invitation.
    The one day in committee is bad, but not the real problem. It’s the timeline between announcement of the inquiry to reporting, especially as the 9th is a thurs, the 10th a Fri, and the 13th a Monday. From the information page:

    On 9 August 2007, the Senate referred to the Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs five bills comprising the legislative package for the Australian Government’s response to the ‘national emergency’ relating to the welfare of Indigenous children in the Northern Territory… The committee will hold a public hearing in Canberra on Friday, 10 August 2007 and is required to report on Monday, 13 August 2007.

    So, announce Thurs, hearing on Friday – report by Monday.  That’s less than the time you’d allow for a group to put together an essay – let alone something as important as this.

  2. Sorry: hearing ONE day after referred to committee

  3. If you’ve got time, check out the GetUp campaign at http://www.getup.org.au/campaign/NoRubberStamp, and think about sending a message before Tuesday to the Senate, about the NT National Emergency Response laws – the senators are going to vote on the laws then, without having had time to read through the submissions to the hearing, or really think about the implications of controlling Aboriginal lives (the rights that most of us take for granted will be denied to Aborigines in the NT), or think about whether instead of spending 200 million on controlling every Aboriginal’s social security payments, it might be better to spend the money on training Aborigines to build and maintain houses, training more Indigenous police officers, providing education, advice and support to victims of sexual abuse.

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