Senate voting reform: Mathias Cormann reacts to Muir's attempt to debate ABCC bill
Special Minister of State Mathias Cormann say the Senate will not be distracted from its debate on voting reform this week.
- Ricky Muir will try to bring on debate about a bill to re-introduce the construction industry watchdog
- Nick Xenophon said both bills could be dealt with this week if the Government wanted
- Labor argued the Government trying to rush Senate changes through
The Government has made a bill to overhaul the Senate voting system its priority, and will seek to extend this week's sitting hours to push the legislation through.
Labor and most crossbenchers have opposed the plan and have already tried to drag out and delay the process.
Victorian Senator Ricky Muir will try and change the agenda and instead bring on debate about a bill to re-introduce the construction industry watchdog, the ABCC.
But Senator Cormann said the stunt would not be humoured and the ABCC legislation would be debated when the Parliament returns in May.
"We will not be able to deal with the legislation this week," he said.
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon — who supports the voting reform — said both bills could be dealt with this week if the Government wanted.
"In any event it's going to be an extraordinarily messy and ugly week in the Senate — much messier and uglier than we're used to," he said.
"And I think we'll see every procedural rule in the book being used by all sides to try and get what they want."
Crossbench senator Bob Day echoed his sentiments this morning, saying the Government was "juggling chainsaws" when it came to reform.
"There will be blood on the floor," he said.
Independent senator Jacqui Lambie supports Senator Muir's move.
"Bring it on, bring on debate about the ABCC," she said.
Liberal senator Cory Bernardi said he would be willing to sit for as long as it took to deal with the legislation.
He said the crossbenchers were being driven by self interest.
"It's not about the ABCC, it's not about principle, it's about trying to save their jobs," he said.
Some Coalition backbenchers arguing against early poll idea
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has threatened to call a double dissolution election if the Senate rejects the ABCC bill for a second time
Labor argued the Government is trying to rush the Senate changes through because it wants to call a double dissolution election in July using the new voting rules.
Some Coalition backbenchers are publicly arguing against the idea of an early poll.
Among them is senator Ian Macdonald, who has warned it could make it easier for minor parties to gain a seat in Parliament.
"I think you'd get rid of this mob of recalcitrant crossbenchers — some of them are, some are quite good. You'll get rid of this lot but you could end up with an equally recalcitrant lot of crossbenchers," he said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will address the National Press Club today, declaring his party is ready for an election.
He will also outline plans to address underemployment in disadvantaged regions of Australia.
Source: ABC News