Was it something to do with Senate Leader Robert Hill’s stoush with Red Kez on the 7:30 Report on Tuesday night? I thought Hilly acquitted himself pretty well over allegations that the Government was suppressing debate in the Senate. Whatever. Hilly’s office obviously thought they needed to do something, with this crib sheet yesterday sent out to Government members by Hill’s senior adviser Peta Credlin:

The Senate and the Guillotine

THE FACTS

GRABS

  • Labor hold the record for “ramming” bills through the Senate at nearly 2:1 against the Coalition (221 ALP – 93 Coalition)
  • The record for top “guillotiner” sits with former Senator Bob McMullan (57 times on 16/06/1992) closely followed by Senator Robert Ray (52 times on 13/12/1990)
  • Since assuming Government majority in the Senate, government debate time has reduced from 16+ hrs per week to less than 10 hrs per week (at 28/11/2005) due to procedural and vexatious motions from non-government parties.
  • In terms of the record for longest bills debated in the history of the Senate, out of the top 28 bills – 13 (or nearly half) are bills introduced by the Howard Government which puts paid to Labor claims that this Government is shutting down debate and scrutiny in the Senate.
  • In sharp contrast, the former Hawke/Keating Labor Government can only claim 6 bills in this top 28 list – it is clear from this statistic, that despite mock outrage this week, Labor shut down debate when in government and was a master of the “guillotine.”

USE OF GUILLOTINE

Number of Bills “Guillotined” –

1. Under Labor Government (1983 – 1996) = 221

2. Under Coalition Government (1996 – 5 December 2005) = 93

(See attached file re: Senate Table Office Statistics 2005)

Record since 1983 stands with former Senator Bob McMullan (and current Member for Fraser) who deployed guillotine 57 times (on 16 June 1992)

Closely followed by Senator Robert Ray at 52 times (on 13 December 1990)

TIME SPENT ON COMMITTEE REFERENCES AND DISALLOWANCE MOTIONS

The length of Senate government business time that has been lost to procedural and vexatious motions since 1 July 2005 has blown-out.

This has reduced the average time spent per sitting week on government business from 16 hours per week to less than 10 (as at last week – 28/11/05)

RECENT DEBATES

Workplace Relations Amendment (Work Choices) Bill 2005

  • 32 hours in Senate (which equates to 3 x Senate weeks as we are averaging 10 hrs per week since 1 July 2005 and makes it one of the longest bills debated in the Senate (No.13)
  • 22 hours in the House of Representatives
  • 54 hours in total

Telstra (Transition to Full Private Ownership) Bill 2005

  • 22 hours in Senate
  • 17 hours in the House of Representatives
  • 39 hours in total

LONGEST SENATE BILLS DEBATED IN HISTORY

Of the top 28 bills ever debated in the Senate – by length of time allocated to the debate – 13 (or nearly HALF) of the bills are Howard Government bills.

Only 6 of these bills were under the previous ALP (Hawke / Keating) Government.

Peter Fray

72 hours only. 50% off a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

Our two-for-one offer with The Atlantic was so popular we decided to bring it back.

But only for 72 hours.

Use the promo code ATLANTIC2020 and you’ll get 50% off a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year of digital access to The Atlantic (usually $70). That’s BOTH for just $129.

Hurry. Ends midnight this Thursday.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

Claim Now